Genomics England have announced that they, in partnership with the GenOMICC consortium, are working with the NHS to deliver whole-genome sequencing of up to 20,000 people who have been severely affected by COVID-19 and required intensive care, and another 15,000 people who had mild symptoms.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the variation in symptom severity has been a concern for researchers, so this study aims to find out whether there are genetic factors that underlie why some people experience severe symptoms and others don’t.
The study will take place across the NHS and is being supported by £28 million from Genomics England, UK Research and Innovation, the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health Research. The study will be facilitated by the University of Edinburgh and multiple NHS hospitals.
The results of the study will be used to suggest potential treatments and inform global strategic planning for potential future peaks of COVID-19 and other pandemics.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a ground-breaking and far-reaching study which will harness the UK’s world-leading genomics science to improve treatments and ultimately save lives across the world.”
Since genetic discoveries require many patients, the GenOMICC study will ultimately aim to recruit all COVID-19 patients who were admitted to intensive care in the UK, with their consent. The study has so far collected DNA samples from almost 2000 patients.