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How countries are using genomics to help avoid a second coronavirus wave

Source(s):  Nature Research

By Clare Watson

As many countries emerge from lockdowns, researchers are poised to use genome sequencing to avoid an expected second wave of COVID-19 infections.


Now, countries that have successfully suppressed infections are entering the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic — where there's a risk of new cases appearing as social restrictions ease. Researchers say that genomics will be crucial to quickly track and control these outbreaks. Studies already show that outbreaks tend to be shorter and smaller when genomics is used to help contact tracing.


Several places are particularly well placed to do that because they invested in genome sequencing early in the pandemic and have a relatively small numbers of cases. Researchers in New Zealand, and at least one state in Australia decided that they would aim to sequence most coronavirus genomes in their country or state.


But the use of genomic analysis to help contact tracing is largely restricted to high-income countries, says Meru Sheel, an epidemiologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. She would like to see genomics considered as a tool for outbreak responses in resource-limited countries in the Asia–Pacific region, as it was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Guinea during the Ebola outbreak.

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  • Publication date 27 May 2020

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