A new research consortium in the UK has received £20 million ($23.2 million) in funding to sequence SARS-CoV-2 samples from patients to trace how the virus spreads, as GenomeWeb reports.
The group — dubbed the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium — is being led by Wellcome Sanger Institute, Public Health England, other academic and public health institutions, and the National Health Service. The consortium plans to sequence full viral genomes from patient samples from around the UK. As Reuters notes, identifying small genetic changes in the viral genome could help understand how the virus is transmitted and whether any new strains are emerging.
The consortium says it plans to share its analyses with clinicians to help in clinical care as well as with public health officials. "Rapid genome sequencing of COVID-19 will give us unparalleled insights into the spread, distribution, and scale of the epidemic in the UK," Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, says in a statement.