Director of UCL Pathogen Genomics joins alliance to map spread of COVID-19

Director of UCL Pathogen Genomics Unit, Professor Judith Breuer was announced on the 23rd March 2020, to be involved in a new genome sequencing consortium to map the spread of COVID-19.

The consortium is made up of a number of institutions including the NHS, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Public Health Agencies and academics including UCL.

The consortium aims to better understand the spread of the virus using rapid sequencing on a large scale.

The intelligence gathered using this method will then be shared with hospitals, NHS centres and government.

Samples taken from patients who have contracted the virus will be sent to sequencing centres including Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.

Through looking at the whole virus genome of COVID-19, scientists can monitor changes in the strain and see if different strains are emerging as well as tracking the spread of the virus.

Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government has already stated that £20million will be given to the consortium as support.

Professor Breuer said:

“Covid-19 is major threat to London and the entire world.”

“We at UCL are incredibly proud to be part of the national rapid response efforts to contain the virus.”

“The Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium will provide important data to Public Health England about how the virus is spreading.”

“Viral sequencing provides a new tool which will aid national public health efforts to interrupt the spread of the virus.”

“Based in the heart of London, UCL is uniquely placed to respond to this because of our valued collaborations across the capital.”

“We are extremely grateful to our colleagues across UCL and in genome centres across London for volunteering to support this project.”

“This will enable us to man the pipeline seven days a week with capacity to increase this to 24/7 should it be necessary.”

“This effort builds on the joint investment in genomics infrastructure made by the ULCH/UCL and GOSH/UCL NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and we are incredibly grateful for their unstinting support.”