The new coronavirus has many changes, how does gene sequencing follow the rhythm
WHO releases scientific response guidelines
International war "epidemic" operation
◎Intern reporter Zhang Jiaxin
When faced with the challenge of a large-scale global emergency, how to deal with it scientifically and effectively is a common reality facing the world.
The new crown pneumonia pandemic has opened up huge opportunities for science and allowed science to play its full role in this.
Among them, the rapid development of vaccines at lightning speed is a manifestation of core technical capabilities, as is genome sequencing.
On January 11, the World Health Organization held a routine press conference for new coronary pneumonia. Director General Tan Desai said that the more the virus spreads, the more the possibility of mutation will increase.
The most important thing is that we can effectively sequence the virus to understand how the virus changes and how we should respond.
Although diagnostic tools and vaccines are still effective against current viruses, we may need to adjust them in the future.
Last week, WHO issued a comprehensive implementation guidelines and risk monitoring framework to help countries establish influential gene sequencing programs.
Gene sequencing facilitates virus tracking and epidemic prevention and control
This guide for the implementation of genetic testing states that the new coronavirus gene sequencing can be used in many different areas, including improving diagnosis, formulating countermeasures and disease epidemiological investigations.
In the early stage of the outbreak, the sharing of the genome sequence of the new coronavirus enabled the rapid development of molecular diagnostic analysis, which improved the global preparedness against the epidemic and helped countries formulate countermeasures.
Rapid and large-scale sequencing of the viral genome helps to understand the dynamics of the virus epidemic and evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and control measures.
Now, scientific developments have allowed us to sequence the new coronavirus within hours or days after a case is confirmed.
Real-time genome sequencing can provide information for the public health sector’s response to the pandemic.
More and more people realize that viral genome sequencing helps promote public health.
Therefore, laboratories in more countries are investing in this field.
However, the guidelines state that the cost and workload involved in genetic sequencing are huge, and laboratories in various countries need to have a clear idea of the expected public health return on this investment.
The guidelines also warn that although there are “gatekeepers” in gene sequencing, it is important that those who set goals, conduct genome analysis and use the resulting data should be aware of the limitations of gene sequencing that is dominated by certain forces. And potential sources of bias.
Gene sequencing implementation requires careful consideration and detailed planning
This guide gives detailed guidance on how to implement gene sequencing in various countries.
The guidelines stated that before starting a genetic sequencing program, it is important to clearly understand the sequencing goals, analysis strategies, and plans for how to use research results to inform public health responses.
Each stage of the COVID-19 pandemic presents different challenges that are vital to public health. To deal with some of these challenges, we need to adopt different genome sampling strategies.
Regarding the precautions related to the implementation of gene sequencing, the guidelines stated that the decision of gene sequencing goals should be made within a multidisciplinary framework that includes senior representatives of all stakeholders.
At the same time, in order to ensure sustainable support, the source of funding for sequencing should be determined, including the cost of experts, sequencing equipment and consumables, and the computing architecture required to process and store data.
The laboratory should also carefully evaluate whether there are ethical issues.
In addition, the laboratory should conduct a biosafety risk assessment for each step in its selected plan.
In terms of the goals of gene sequencing, laboratories should explain the technical considerations for gene sequencing and sample selection methods.
Currently, there are several devices that can be used to sequence the new coronavirus genome.
Due to the difference in the accuracy of the data read each time, the amount of data generated and the turnaround time, each device may have a certain degree of applicability under specific circumstances.
In order to achieve the goal of gene sequencing, virus sequence data and sample metadata are necessary in most cases.
Obtaining such data and converting it into the correct analysis format may require a lot of resources, but it also helps to maximize the potential impact of sequencing.
In addition, the guide also mentions how to preserve the integrity of genetic samples during transportation, storage, and testing, and how to scientifically analyze and interpret the data results to avoid misunderstandings.
The guidelines also stated that no matter how many new coronavirus genome sequences are produced, they will have a positive impact on public health only if strategies are formulated for the subsequent generation and dissemination of useful and timely results.
Gene sequencing networks cannot do without global sharing and complementary cooperation
"If we want to better prepare for future threats, we must accelerate the integration of genome sequencing into the practice of the global health community." Sylvie Bryant, director of the WHO's infectious disease hazard management department, is here The preface of the guide stated, “We hope that this guide will help pave the way for preparations.”
The guidelines state that many analyses rely on the ability to compare locally obtained viral sequences with global viral genome diversity.
Therefore, it is very important to appropriately share the viral genome sequence, for example, in databases such as GISAID and GenBank, when global data sharing is underway.
The guidelines encourage countries to increase complementary cooperation to ensure that existing capabilities are maximized.
For example, some countries may need to improve the ability to build corresponding laboratories, while other countries may decide to outsource the actual gene sequencing work and focus on bioinformatics, data management, and data interpretation.
"The establishment of a strong and resilient global gene sequencing network can maximize the impact of sequencing on public health, not only for the new coronavirus, but also for pathogens that will emerge in the future." The guide reads.
At a regular press conference on the 11th, Tedros also said that WHO calls on all countries to increase the genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus and share these data globally to supplement ongoing monitoring, inspection and testing.
Viruses know no borders. It is a common challenge facing all of us.
Countries in the world are a community of shared destiny, and no one can stand alone and take care of themselves. Only by uniting can we overcome difficulties.