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The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium and the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) launch new partnership

Monday, May 4, 2020

Ottawa, ON

COG-UK and CanCOGeN are working together to share knowledge and protocols 

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium is collaborating with the newly formed Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) as it launches a national sequencing network to monitor the pandemic’s development. By sharing  knowledge, lessons learned and protocols, the initiatives will each support national efforts to coordinate the work of healthcare, public, private and academic organisations to sequence and analyse the spread and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how it affects patients. The partnership will also allow both groups to share insights and discoveries to drive understanding of the pandemic as it changes over time.

COG-UK is supporting two key genomic projects:

  • Sequencing the virus to understand how it works and is evolving
  • Analysing people’s genomes to understand why they experience such different health outcomes.

CanCOGeN is an open and collaborative initiative to coordinate safe data sharing and analysis across Canada. It will oversee the sequencing of genomes of up to 150,000 viral samples and 10,000 patients to inform clinical and public health strategies. The work will also provide the foundation to develop the tools needed to better protect Canadians’ health when similar outbreaks occur in the future.

Speaking for the COG-UK consortium, Professor Sharon Peacock from Public Health England said:

“We are delighted to partner with CanCOGeN as it develops its national sequencing and analysis network. Our experience in building a UK-wide alliance of academic, healthcare and public health organisations to rapidly sequence and analyse SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes at scale will help CanCOGeN rapidly develop its capacity. We look forward to sharing data and protocols to further develop our insights into, and ability to track, the development of the COVID-19 pandemic at both the national and international level.”

Led by Genome Canada, CanCOGeN brings together CGen (the country’s national platform for sequencing and analysis encompassing the major genome sequencing centres in TorontoMontreal and  Vancouver), the country’s six regional Genome Centres, the National Microbiology Lab, provincial public health labs, hospitals, universities and the private sector. CanCOGeN will be supported by an Advisory Committee to ensure strategic coordination with Canadian and international COVID-19 health and medical research efforts.

Quotes

Professor Sharon Peacock from Public Health England and speaking for the COG-UK consortium said:

“We are delighted to partner with CanCOGeN as it develops its national sequencing and analysis network. Our experience in building a UK-wide alliance of academic, healthcare and public health organisations to rapidly sequence and analyse SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes at scale will help CanCOGeN rapidly develop its capacity. We look forward to sharing data and protocols to further develop our insights into, and ability to track, the development of the COVID-19 pandemic at both the national and international level.”

Professor Mark Lathrop, a member of CanCOGeN and principal investigator at the McGill Genome Centre said:

“We are excited to be working with COG-UK and researchers in the United States to share our discoveries and insights into the action, evolution and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combining the skills, knowledge and insights of the international research community will enable us all to more rapidly understand, and formulate strategies to counter, this global health threat.”

Dr. Matthew Gilmour, Scientific Director General, Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory said:

“Genomics has grown to become one of the most accurate laboratory approaches used to track the spread of microbes during public health investigations. The international sharing of ideas and lab tools between scientists in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the USA has been a foundation to the success of genomics. I know this new partnership will likewise allow us to understand the spread of COVID-19.”