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COVID-19: UK consortium will monitor spread of coronavirus

Coronavirus medical illustration

26 March

As the Covid-19 outbreak increases pressure on the UK’s NHS services and frontline staff, leading scientists are taking on new initiatives to tackle the outbreak. As there is currently no treatment or vaccine for this virus, researchers are working at unprecedented speed to accelerate the development of a treatment.

Tiffany Hionas

On the 23rd March, the Government and the UK’s Scientific Adviser announced that they would be backing leading UK scientists who will be taking part in a major new genome sequencing consortium which will map the spread of Covid-19. The UK consortium which includes the NHS, Public Health England, UKRI, and Wellcome, will allow scientists to monitor changes in the virus on a national scale to understand how it is spread and whether different strains are emerging. This will involve looking at the whole virus genome in people who are tested positive with Covid-19.

This information will enable stronger public health interventions and help with implementation of improved infection control measures.

This consortium has the potential to guide treatments in the future, so that the UK can quickly implement protocols that will reduce the impact of future diseases and outbreaks.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘At a critical moment in history, this new consortium will bring together the UK’s brightest and best scientists to build our understanding of this pandemic, tackle the disease and ultimately, save lives.’

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