COVID-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute
Parasites and Microbes
We will provide real-time genomic monitoring of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK, aiding public health officials in their response to the coronavirus. We will also monitor the virus for genetic mutations which could cause it to be more easily transmitted or to escape vaccines.
As part of COG-UK, the Sanger Institute is sequencing the genomes of tens of thousands of coronavirus samples, from people in communities across the country. Our group combines statistical and computational expertise to analyse those genomes, and detect outbreaks – for example where the virus may have been passed on at a super-spreading event. We are working closely with public health authorities and the UK government to integrate this data with their work. Identifying super-spreading events as quickly as possible will help public health officials respond a little bit sooner. We hope that many small improvements to the speed of our response will collectively help avoid the need for long national lockdowns.
We are also monitoring the virus genome sequence for any mutations which could affect how a vaccine works, once it is introduced. These data are the input to COG-UK efforts to characterise and assess any new mutation in the virus, and understand their effects.
Dr Jeffrey Barrett
Director of the COVID-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute
Jeff has rejoined the Wellcome Sanger Institute to help build the Sanger Institute’s comprehensive Covid-19 genomic surveillance programme in the UK. Previously Jeff was Director of Open Targets, an open innovation partnership to use cutting-edge genomic results to improve the early stages of drug development. His research team at Sanger analyzed thousands of genomes to better understand the biology of a wide range of complex disorders.
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