Health Trailblazers: How gene-hunters have reined in COVID-19

Trailblazers: How gene-hunters have reined in COVID-19

Real time tracking of coronavirus mutations has helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia.

Genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has helped Victorian health officials identify community transmission clusters from cruise ships, health facilities and social venues.

A highly specialised response team from universities, hospitals and government has collaborated to sequence 75 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

The University of Melbourne’s Professor Benjamin Howden said gene sequencing allowed the team to assess the impact of social restrictions.

“We found that most of Victoria’s cases were imported with limited onward transmission,” Professor Howden said.

Disease detectives will continue to use gene sequencing to identify cases and infection clusters as social restrictions ease.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the team’s work was critical in Victoria’s successful efforts to limit community transmission of COVID-19.

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