Through SAGE and the Technical Advisory Group, the Welsh Government receives updates on the genetic makeup of the virus that causes Covid-19. The insights that come from studying the very building blocks of SAR-CoV-2 are both fascinating and terrible. Thanks to the hard work of Welsh specialists in sequencing over 7,500 copies of the viral genome, part of a UK-wide consortium that has sequenced over 50,000 copies since the start of the pandemic, we are learning things that can help us target interventions where they will have the greatest effect on the virus.
As part of our commitment to open and transparent advice, I am sharing this most recent paper, jointly authored by the Bioinformatics team at Public Health Wales and the Pathogen Genomics Unit from the Cardiff University School of Biosciences. Like all of the scientific data being provided through SAGE and TAG, this paper is from the cutting edge of research, and may not be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal as fast as our specialists would like. It is important to read the caveats as well as the conclusions.
The genomics data make clear that the current structure of the population of circulating SARS-CoV-2 in Wales is different to that which was observed in March/April. The data provide a number of insights relating to the impact of the lockdown and potential impact of restrictions such as the 5 mile rule. What is clear from the data is that the easing of lockdown rules into August has corresponded with an increase in cases, which may partly be driven by imports from other parts of the UK and wider world.