£12.2 million funding for COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced £12.2 million in funding to support the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium to expand its genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium will use the funding to expand whole genome sequencing, which uses scientific techniques to read the virus’s genetic code, aiding understanding of how the virus spreads and evolves through the study of DNA.

The viral genome sequencing data will be integrated within Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to help understand outbreaks and strengthen infection control measures.

Professor Sharon Peacock, Director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Cambridge and a Director Of Science (Pathogen Genomics) at PHE, said: “To fully understand the spread and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we must sequence and analyse the viral genomes.”

“The pattern of accumulation of mutations in the genomes enables us to determine the relatedness of virus samples and define viral lineages in order to understand whether local outbreaks are caused by transmission of single or multiple viral lineages.”

Since its launch in March 2020, COG-UK has generated and made publicly available more than 100,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes, making up over 45 per cent of the global total.