CVR rapidly sequences SARS-COV-2

Dr Ana Filipe on STV News 700x400

Researchers at the Centre for Virus Research (CVR), in collaboration with colleagues at the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde West of Scotland Specialist Virology Centre, have sequenced the genome of the SARS-COV-2 virus, a new coronavirus responsible for a disease called Covid-19, from the patient diagnosed as the first Scottish case.

The viral genome sequence was available within 24 hours of receiving a sample from the infected patient, who is clinically well and receiving appropriate care.

Dr Ana Filipe, Head of the CVR’s Viral Genomics facility who led the efforts to rapidly sequence this virus, commented: “The rapid turnaround of the sample and interpretation of the data was only possible due to excellent coordination between clinicians, diagnostic labs, and research partners.

"These collaborations are critically important to ensuring an effective response to outbreaks like this. Equally important is the trend of open sharing of reagents and protocols amongst researchers and the public sharing of sequencing data, which has been a defining feature of the response to recent viral epidemics."

The generation of this viral genome sequence is important for both the public health and research response to this epidemic. Analysis of the viral genome from the Scottish patient indicates that it is very similar to the virus known to have infected patients in other countries. This suggests that this case corresponds to a very recent introduction into Scotland, rather than an infection acquired through community transmission. Therefore, there is no evidence from this case that the virus has been circulating in Scotland undetected.

The information from this viral genome has been shared worldwide and researchers will use this data, in combination with the viral genome sequences from cases detected in other countries, to study this new virus and learn more about its features and characteristics. This analysis will help to answer questions about how this virus emerged to infect humans, enable accurate tracking of its global spread, uncover features important to its behaviour and its ability to cause disease, and eventually inform the design and development of new therapeutics and vaccines to help treat and control this virus and the disease it causes

The CVR is uniquely positioned to support efforts in Scotland having the high containment facilitates and expertise necessary for handling and processing infected samples, and will act as curator for samples collected from Scottish cases and continue to support NHS Scotland by undertaking the genomic sequencing of these samples.

First published: 9 March 2020