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Minister praises innovative Covid-19 research

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Belfast-based researchers are playing their part in groundbreaking research on the DNA make-up of the Covid-19 virus.

The work involving Queen’s University and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is part of the Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium.

The consortium has been created to deliver large-scale and rapid whole-genome virus sequencing – helping to track the spread and behaviour of Covid-19. This research will improve global understanding of the virus and help inform public health responses to it.

The Belfast COG-UK hub is led by Dr Derek Fairley and Dr Tanya Curran from Belfast Trust and Dr David Simpson from Queen’s University.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am delighted that Northern Ireland researchers are heavily involved in this crucial area of work.

“The battle against Covid-19 will be a long haul and improved scientific understanding of the virus is essential if we are to prevail against it.”

Dr David Simpson, Senior Lecturer at The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s, said: “This has been a great opportunity for Queen’s to team up with the Belfast Trust in bringing rapid DNA sequencing technology to the forefront of efforts to track and understand the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The data generated by COG-UK is already informing the management of Covid-19.”

COG-UK is an innovative partnership of NHS organisations, the four Public Health Agencies of the UK, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and over twelve academic partners providing sequencing and analysis capacity for the pandemic SAR-CoV-2 coronavirus.

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