Genomics is on a mission to respond to COVID-19
In April 2020, Genome Canada launched the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN). The mission of CanCOGeN is to establish a coordinated pan-Canadian, cross-agency network for large-scale SARS-CoV-2 and human host sequencing to track viral origin, spread and evolution, characterize the role of human genetics in COVID-19 disease and to inform time-sensitive critical decision making relevant to health authorities across Canada during the pandemic. The network will further contribute to building national capacity to address future outbreaks and pandemics.
The Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) is a Genome Canada-led consortium of Canadian federal, provincial and regional public health authorities and their healthcare partners, academia, industry, hospitals, research institutes and large-scale sequencing centres.
CanCOGeN is centred around two key projects:
Sequencing up to 150,000 viral samples from people testing positive for COVID-19, with more coordination of viral sequencing and associated clinical/epidemiological data collection between provinces, and internationally. This effort will improve tracking of how the virus is changing and spreading, providing key data on virus transmission trends and changes in the virus that may impact viral detection or the effectiveness of treatments or vaccines.
Sequencing the genomes of up to 10,000 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 (the “hosts”). Having the genomes of individuals affected by the virus will help us understand the individual variability in patient outcomes. For example, this work will help answer why in some instances the severity (and even the lethality) of the virus in the senior population is sometimes lower than among young healthy people.
CanCOGen is also collaborating internationally to share knowledge, discoveries and best practice. We launched a new partnership with the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium in May 2020 and are forming similar partnerships with other countries that are focusing on using genomics to understand and control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Genome Canada and the six regional Genome Centres will lead the management and coordination of CanCOGeN to help ensure the network achieves its objectives and milestones.
CanCOGeN is supported by a governance structure that will ensure strategic linkages with Canada’s COVID-19 health and medical countermeasures initiatives across all funding agencies, as well as international efforts.
CanCOGeN is supported by $40 million in funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Unlike typical Genome Canada-supported research funding competitions, funding is directed towards the key organizations that will deliver results in the near term. Genome Canada gratefully acknowledges and thanks the Government of Canada for its support.
Interested in more? Want to get involved? Contact us today.