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Virulence

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
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Genomic Scenarios in Primary Care

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