Genome Sequencing To Track Coronavirus Spread In The UK
Scientists are planning to track the spread of Covid-19 in the UK using the clues in the genetic code of coronavirus.
information on whether the virus is mutating can also be obtained by analyzing the samples collected from Covid-19 patients.
So far, UK has reported more than 6,700 laboratory-confirmed cases, but the true number could be far higher, say scientists.
The UK government has introduced a £20 million project called the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, to improve the understanding of the highly infectious pandemic and ultimately save the lives of thousands. The project will be co-led by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the National Health Service, PHE and other academic institutions and public health agencies.
The fundamental building block that builds a virus is its genetic code. However, the genetic code will keep changing as the virus mutates. As the virus keeps spreading across the population, there is a high probability for their genome to mutate.
And sequencing the genetic code of coronavirus from different patients across the population will help the scientists to get an idea about how the virus is spreading.
For example, patients infected with genetically identical coronavirus could be a part of the same cluster.
When a hospital in Cambridge used the same technique, they were able to identify the source of a superbug MRSA outbreak.
Genome sequencing can assist scientists during epidemics to monitor even slight mutations in the virus at an international level or national level to understand if any new strains are emerging and how the disease is spreading.
Prof Sharon Peacock, the director of the national infection service at Public Health England said that the virus is the biggest threat his country has faced in recent times. Scientists hope that genome sequencing can track the spread of coronavirus in the UK and thus control the spread.
“Harnessing innovative genome technologies will help us tease apart the complex picture of coronavirus spread in the UK.”
The UK has reported 336 deaths until now. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the globe are nearing to 4 lack while the death toll has crossed 17,000.