Epidemics & PandemicsMedical & Bio TechnologyCoronavirus Genome Sequencing, Institut Pasteur

The French Ministry of Health, on January 24, 2020, confirmed the first 3 cases of patients affected by the Wuhan coronavirus known as 2019-nCov — marking the outbreak’s spread to Europe. Agnes Buzyn, the Minister of Solidarity and Health of France, confirmed in a press briefing last Friday evening that 3 patients — in two separate regions — tested positive for the novel strain of coronavirus. One patient is in the Bordeaux region of southern France, while two are in Paris, being treated in the Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital. Buzyn said 2 of the patients recently returned from China and the 3rd patient is a close relative of the other Parisian patient.

“We will probably have other cases,” Buzyn warned.

Meanwhile on January 29, 2020, the Institut Pasteur, which is responsible for monitoring respiratory viruses in France, sequenced the whole genome of the coronavirus known as “2019-nCoV”, becoming the very first institution in all of Europe to sequence the virus since the outbreak’s start.

The virus was sequenced at the Institut Pasteur’s Mutualized Platform for Microbiology (P2M), which performs genome sequencing on bacterial, viral, fungal and parasite strains received by National Reference Centers and World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for the purpose of infectious disease surveillance.

The P2M platform currently performs at an extraordinarily high level; the average time taken to produce sequences ranges anywhere from 3 days (for emergencies) to a maximum of 10 days. In this case, it took only 3 days for the whole sequence to be completed: “We performed data analysis during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, then corroborated the results on Wednesday with counter analysis,” explains Vincent Enouf, Deputy Director of National Reference Center, at the Institut. “The whole sequence was confirmed in just 3 days.”

On Thursday January 30, 2020,  the Institut Pasteur obtained and shared the whole sequence of the virus.

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Medical Press, January 2020