Toward a global virus genomic surveillance network.
Hill V., Githinji G., Vogels CBF., Bento AI., Chaguza C., Carrington CVF., Grubaugh ND.
The COVID-19 pandemic galvanized the field of virus genomic surveillance, demonstrating its utility for public health. Now, we must harness the momentum that led to increased infrastructure, training, and political will to build a sustainable global genomic surveillance network for other epidemic and endemic viruses. We suggest a generalizable modular sequencing framework wherein users can easily switch between virus targets to maximize cost-effectiveness and maintain readiness for new threats. We also highlight challenges associated with genomic surveillance and when global inequalities persist. We propose solutions to mitigate some of these issues, including training and multilateral partnerships. Exploring alternatives to clinical sequencing can also reduce the cost of surveillance programs. Finally, we discuss how establishing genomic surveillance would aid control programs and potentially provide a warning system for outbreaks, using a global respiratory virus (RSV), an arbovirus (dengue virus), and a regional zoonotic virus (Lassa virus) as examples.