It adds that the first SARS-CoV-2 genome was added to the database in January 2020 from China, with others following from Africa, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere, and there are now viral sequences from 172 different countries. GISAID — Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data — launched in 2016 as a database for sharing flu genomes, it notes, but became popular for sharing SARS-CoV-2 genomes as well.
With all these sequences, Sebastian Maurer-Stroh tells Nature News that researchers can study how the virus spreads as well as the effect of vaccinations and other measures to control that spread.
There are gaps within the database, Nature News adds. It points out that 379,510 sequences come from the UK, which started a viral sequencing program early in the pandemic, and 303,359 from the US, which is ramping its sequencing effort up, but none from Tanzania and only 49 from Lebanon and six from El Salvador, as of this week.