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The importance of turnaround-time

Brief discussion on why to sequence fast is important
Turnaround time is a very important process for logistics. Essentially, we want to get samples received as quickly as possible from where the sample was collected to a sequencing site so then we can sequence the sample as quickly as possible, so the data can be reported back to the hospitals and also the public-health agencies. Now turnaround times will vary depending on the processes that you’re using. In COG-UK, we’ve worked over time to make it as quickly and as robust as possible. We have managed to get our turnaround time down to three days from when the sample is received at a sequencing site. My advice when we’re talking about turnaround times, is to break up that process into steps.
We need to understand how long it takes for a sample to be received at a sequencing site after it’s tested, because there is different ways that we can reduce that turnaround time. For example, we can increase the frequency of how often those samples are collected, we can reduce the batch size, if it’s their high priority samples. But the only way we can understand about how to reduce that turnaround time, is if we monitor it. So the first step is to monitor the turnaround time when the sample was collected to when it is received at a sequencing site. Then we can monitor the turnaround time for sequencing and, in particular, we can look at the technology that we use for sequencing.
If a high-priority sample, we want the turnaround time to be as low as possible. We can also batch samples if we want to reduce the cost, but we need to understand about is the cost more important than having a really quick turnaround time. So turnaround time is extremely important, but it’s really fundamental that we look at the steps that underpin that whole end-to-end process.

Here, Dr Catherine Ludden addresses important points to achieve an efficient turnaround time for sequencing results.

Visit NextStrain and observe how the number of sequences from your country increased over time. Please share your findings with us in the comments.

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From Swab to Server: Testing, Sequencing, and Sharing During a Pandemic

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