Using digital platforms to determine genetic susceptibility to COVID-19

genome sequencing for genetic traits for COVID-19

Date: 18th May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has unearthed many questions as to why the severity of the disease can vary so widely between people.  Now the UK Government has announced a major whole genome sequencing project designed to help scientists uncover the genetic susceptibility to COVID-19 in a ground-breaking nationwide study.

The study will be headed up by Genomics England and will involve several partners such as GenOMICC consortium, Illumina, the University of Edinburg and the NHS.  The endeavour will see the genomes of 20,000 people currently or previously in an intensive care unit with coronavirus, as well as 15,000 individuals who have mild or moderate symptoms being sequenced.

It is hoped that the study will identify those genetically at risk, and support the search for new treatments and therapies, which can be fast-tracked into clinical trials.

To support the rapid analysis and interpretation of complex genomic data the study will use Congenica’s clinical decision support platform – currently being developed to focus on genes thought to be involved in determining an individual’s response to SARs-Cov-2 infection.  The scalable platform will allow for health data such as symptoms, viral antigen status, viral load, antibody (IgM/IgG) status, and viral genome (strain) characterisation and analysis, in an all-in-one solution from sequencer to clinically-actionable report.

The data that is collected during the study will also inform global strategic planning for possible subsequent waves of the pandemic, and will provide useful insights into new pandemics in the future.


For more information please see the press releases from Genomics England and Congenica.