Genome sequencing is an essential tool to identify and track the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Sequence data informs public health interventions and the further development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. There is inequity in access to sequencing worldwide, and COG-Train is committed to contributing towards efforts that close this gap.
We will use our combined knowledge and experience to develop a training programme for countries seeking to establish or expand their own SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing programme. Although open to all, we will prioritise low- and middle-income countries.
Since March 2020, COG-UK has delivered large-scale rapid genome sequencing for SARS-CoV-2 in the UK and represents one of the largest aggregations of expertise and experience in SARS-CoV-2 sequencing. The WCS courses and conferences team will develop and deliver training that spans basic research, cutting-edge biomedicine and the application of genomics in healthcare.
Outputs include a series of online, open-access courses on all aspects of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing based on WCS’s successful use of the FutureLearn platform. COG-UK will share best practices that underpin the establishment of a national sequencing network, including sampling, data sharing and linkage, operations, information governance and integration with public health agencies.
The programme includes train-the-trainer courses in partnership with the Wellcome Africa and Asia programmes (AAPs). These courses support trainees to not only learn about sequencing, but acquire the knowledge to run their own courses. The remote classroom model will be used to increase reach and impact of the learning materials, with training being delivered simultaneously in multiple classrooms across many countries.
The COG-Train educational programme builds on the COG-UK values of data sharing, open collaboration, value for money, inclusivity and the prioritisation of public health impact.