- first update 18 January 2021
In January 2020, a previously unknown coronavirus strain was identified as the cause of a respiratory infection and death in humans . The first viral genome was sequenced using high throughput sequencing (HTS) from a sample collected in Wuhan, China. This virus, belonging to the viral species Severe acute respiratory syndrome– related coronavirus, has been subsequently named SARS-CoV-2 and the associated disease coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) . Sequencing of (partial) genes and whole genomes (WGS) has been proven as a powerful method to investigate viral pathogen genomes, understand outbreak transmission dynamics and spill-over events and screen for mutations that potentially have an impact on transmissibility, pathogenicity, and/or countermeasures (e.g. diagnostics, antiviral drugs and vaccines). The results are key to informing outbreak control decisions in public health.
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) 2021