Cracking Covid: The history of COG-UK: how a community came together to break the COVID code and brought about a revolution in genomic surveillance

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Seen as a defining moment in history, COVID-19 has been one of the most important social, economic and public health challenges the world has experienced since the Second World War. Caused by a new human coronavirus, first identified by Chinese scientists on 7 January 2020, no one knew how the respiratory disease would spread and manifest itself.

Subsequently called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the new virus raised many questions. For example, where did it come from, how did it transmit between people and what was the best protection against it? With the number of cases reaching one million worldwide by April 2, 2020 (Moore), everyone was grappling to address these issues. This was particularly the case for scientists and clinicians who were immediately thrust on to the frontline of the pandemic. With hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions of lives, potentially depending on their efforts, they quickly swung into action.

The full implications and toll of COVID-19 will probably only become clear many years down the road. But it is already apparent that scientists have never before worked so collaboratively and efficiently at such a scale to find a solution as they did for COVID-19. Where this was most obvious was the record speed with which a safe and effective vaccine was developed to combat the disease. Developed in record time, the vaccine was built from scratch to the first dose in a patient in less than a year, thereby helping to save millions of lives and change what the pandemic meant to humanity (GAVI).
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationWhat is Biotechnology?
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

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