More than half a million positive COVID-19 samples have been genomically sequenced, cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in genomics.
The UK has today (Sunday 27 June) surpassed over half a million genomically sequenced positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, as the UK’s testing programme continues to ramp up.
The strength of the UK’s genomics science base and diagnostics sequencing industry has allowed the UK to rapidly identify COVID-19 variants and capture critical data that has helped to track and stay ahead of mutations in the genome of the virus. It is estimated that the UK contributes around 50% of all sequencing that is shared for comparison across the world.
Genomic sequencing is laboratory analysis that identifies a virus’s genetic make-up, allowing new variants or mutations in existing variants to be detected. Reaching this milestone is testament to the extraordinary expertise the UK has in genomics and the efforts of researchers, laboratory scientists and analysts, clinicians and policymakers.
“This milestone is testament to the hard work, dedication and brilliance of researchers and scientists in laboratories across the country, as well as those on the frontline of our battle against this wretched virus.” Said Innovation Minister Lord Bethell
Surge testing has been rolled out to specific areas across the country to monitor and suppress the spread of COVID-19 and to better understand new variants. Genomic sequencing is a key part of surge testing as it enables scientists to continue to identify variants of concern, as well as any changes to known variants or to identify new emerging variants that need to be followed. All positive tests with high enough viral load in surge testing postcodes and from identified test sites will be sent for sequencing.
In addition to surge testing, the government is providing additional support packages to stop the spread of the Delta variant which includes support for those self-isolating and activity to maximise vaccine uptake in the area. This has been rapidly deployed across areas including Bedford, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and Birmingham.
The virus will continue to naturally evolve as it spreads globally, but the UK will continue to use its excellent genomics, epidemiology and virology capacity to monitor all variants to ensure that public health interventions are effective and proportionate.