Skip main navigation


How sequencing allowed a very rapid response to the emergence of the novel disease COVID-19
© Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences

Nowadays new illnesses can be rapidly assessed and their genetic causes identified – when the new zoonotic virus named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 emerged in China in late 2019, it took less than 2 weeks to sequence the entire viral genome.

Zhou et al reported on the novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in January 2020, and Wu et al published their Complete genome characterisation of a novel coronavirus less than 2 weeks later in February 2020.

The sequence of COVID-19 genetic material gave the scientists an immediate handle on how to tackle it. The first step was learning how to track it and monitor its virulence. This was achieved by the development of rapid PCR based tests which can very sensitively detect small amounts of COVID-19 DNA in swab samples. This allowed the world to set up test, track and isolate protocols to try to bring the out-break under control.

© Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences
This article is from the free online

Genomic Scenarios in Primary Care

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education