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Managing infectious disease outbreaks through rapid pathogen genome sequencing briefing paper

White paper

Date: 16th February 2021

Global health security depends on the rapid recognition and containment of infectious diseases and no government can afford to be complacent about the risks posed to population health, economic, political, and social stability and wellbeing. It is possible to be prepared to prevent and control such threats by investing in intelligent and agile public health tools to monitor for potential risks, enabling responses at appropriate speed and scale to problems as they appear.

Genomic epidemiology is a crucial weapon in the public health fight against infectious diseases, providing rapid identification and complete characterisation of infectious disease pathogens. As evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, genomic epidemiology further supports precise tracking of pathogen evolution, providing detailed insights into sources of infection, routes of transmission, and the potential association of novel pathogen variants (such as the COVID-19 B1.1.7 and B1.351 variants originally identified in the UK and South Africa) with changes to disease severity, transmission, and diagnostic and therapeutic efficacy.

This briefing paper describes when, where, and how genomic epidemiology can offer critical and timely insights for infectious disease experts, public health professionals and policy-makers to stay a step ahead of infectious disease threats, responding with maximal effect.

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