UK to offer genomic expertise to identify new coronavirus strains abroad


The UK aims to provide genomic experts to nations with limited resources in order to provide an early warning of concerning new coronavirus variants emerging abroad.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to make the pledge on Tuesday as the Government becomes increasingly concerned over strains evolving to evade vaccines.

He will offer the support of a new variant assessment platform, to be led by Public Health England, to analyse the genetics of coronavirus samples.

Coronavirus – Mon Jan 25, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon Jan 25, 2020

In a speech to the Chatham House think tank, Mr Hancock is expected to say: “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 neighbours, but the health of people across the world.

“The new variants of coronavirus have demonstrated this once again so we must work to promote health security right across the world.

“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.”

Mr Hancock’s pledge comes as the Government faces pressure to increase border protections to prevent new strains arriving from overseas.

Nations will be able to request the support through the World Health Organisation or directly to the UK.