The UK has sequenced over 600,000 positive COVID-19 tests, providing ‘invaluable data’ in the fight against the virus, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced last Friday.

According the DHSC, the UK is estimated to contribute around 23% of all COVID-19 sequencing across the globe uploaded to GISAID.

In the early stages of the pandemic, the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium was created to enable the delivery of large-scale and rapid whole-genome virus sequencing for local NHS centres and the government.

The data collected by COG-UK has aided public health agencies in decision making for managing COVID-19 outbreaks and for informing vaccine development efforts.

When sequenced, virus genome data can then be combined with clinical and epidemiological datasets to help inform UK public health interventions and policies.

In a statement, the DHSC added that this information will also enable the evaluation of novel treatments and non-pharmacological interventions in the future, as well as provide information on community transmission and outbreaks.

The UK’s genomic sequencing has also been used to rapidly detect the Delta variant first identified in India, in a bid to deploy additional support to areas where the variant of concern has been prevalent.

“The UK has an established history of scientists developing incredible genomic technology striving to improve patient outcomes around the world. Every single test sequenced helps us to learn more about this awful virus, and brings us one step closer to defeating it,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.