Industry Welcomes UK’s Offer to Provide Genomics Expertise to Identify New COVID Variants

BIA has welcomed the announcement from the UK government that genomics expertise and capacity will be offered globally to help identify new variants of the virus that cause COVID-19.

The BioIndustry Association (BIA) has welcomed the announcement from the government of the United Kingdom that genomics expertise and capacity will be offered globally to help identify new variants of the virus that cause COVID-19.

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for Health and Social Care, revealed the plans for the UK to provide global support to sequence the full genetic code of the COVID-19 virus in an announcement on Jan. 26, 2021. The provision of expertise and capacity will be offered to countries that do not have resources to analyze new strains and will be run through the New Variant Assessment Platform, which is to be led by Public Health England.

“This pandemic has shown that the foundations of so many of the exciting experiences that make life worth living are contingent not just on our health, or the health of our neighbors, but the health of people across the world. The new variants of coronavirus have demonstrated [the importance of global health] once again so we must work to promote health security right across the world,” Hancock said in the announcement. “Our New Variant Assessment Platform will help us better understand this virus and how it spreads and will also boost global capacity to understand coronavirus so we’re all better prepared for whatever lies ahead.”

In response to the announcement, Steve Bates, CEO of BIA, said in a Jan. 26, 2021 press release, “The rapid genetic sequencing and identification of new COVID-19 variants that the New Variant Assessment Platform announced today promises not only to inform public health measures but is also the bedrock of novel vaccine discovery and development. Life science companies in the UK look forward to sharing their industrial expertise and capability with Public Health England’s new platform enabling the UK innovation ecosystem to contribute scalable vaccine development to the globe. Immediate opportunities are likely to be in innovative mRNA platforms, rapidly adaptable to vaccines for potential future variants.”

Sources: UK Gov, BIA