British Scientists Aim to Broaden Genomic Sequencing from COVID to Flu
The Wellcome Sanger Institute and the UK Health Security Agency are planning to use genomic sequencing to better understand a range of respiratory pathogens, including influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). By expanding the ability to sequence these viruses routinely, the team hopes to build upon the work done for COVID-19 and supercharge research efforts to understand transmission as well as develop new treatments and vaccines. The aim is to make genomic surveillance of this type the norm, to inform public health responses and act as a blueprint for other countries that want to do the same thing. The initiative will begin later this year by using leftover material from swabs taken for COVID-19 diagnostic purposes and sequencing SARS-CoV-2, influenza, RSV, and other common respiratory viruses in a combined process. The team also aims to sequence everything found in a single nose swab, including the viral, bacterial, and fungal species present and how they change during infection. The five-year initiative is funded by Wellcome.