UCLH to be part of a ‘first-of-its-kind’ clinical trial mapping the spread of COVID-19 within hospitals

The trial could help track the spread of coronavirus amongst hospital patients, enabling hospital teams to better control infections.

University College London Hospital has revealed it is to be taking part in a new clinical trial that will use genome-sequencing to track the spread of coronavirus within hospitals nation-wide. The trial is part of the Governments COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK), which has been given urgent status and £20 million in funding. 

Hospitals have been amongst the hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the spread of COVID-19 has been a major problem, both for healthcare workers and patients. This trial could be ground-breaking in breaking the chain of hospital transmissions. 

UCLH is one of 15 other hospitals taking part in this trial, which hopes to evaluate genomic data from patients to see if they have picked the virus up from another patient within the same hospital. 

As the virus spreads, it’s genomes divide and mutate as it infects more and more people. These changes can be used to track the spread of COVID-19. 

The trial is being led by Professor Judith Breuer, an expert virologist and Director of the Pathogen Genomics Unit at University College London. 

Professor Brauer has said “By sequencing Covid-19 viruses rapidly, we hope to establish how hospital staff and patients became infected.

“This will allow hospitals to put effective measures in place faster, to try to interrupt onward transmission of the virus and reduce the number and size of outbreaks.”

COG-UK has already released evidence that sequencing can enable hospital teams to control infections better, and the information gained from the trial will help to make more precise plans for COVID-19 sequencing in the future.