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The Irish Coronavirus Sequencing Consortium led by Prof Paul Cotter and Dr Fiona Crispie at Teagasc and APC Microbiome Ireland has been awarded funding of €378,716 as part of the Irish Government’s newly-established national, coordinated research and innovation response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Coronavirus Sequencing Consortium will analyse the genetic makeup of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in patient samples in Ireland. The data about the genetic sequences of the viruses will be freely available, allowing epidemiologists to monitor trends in Ireland and internationally, and to watch for changes in the virus that could have an impact the development and delivery of treatments and vaccines.

The consortium partners include Teagasc, University College Cork, Cork University Hospital, the National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, Beaumont hospital, Genomics Medicine Ireland, Trinity College Dublin/St James’s Hospital, University of Limerick (UL)/University Hospital Limerick, the National University of Ireland, Galway and Maynooth University.

More than 350 applications were received with these final 26 proving successful.

The 26 funded projects cover a huge range of areas including:

  • Creating a secure, reliable supply of high-quality reagents to enable large-scale testing
  • Producing PPE for frontline health staff using state-of-the-art 3D printing equipment.
  • Tracking the genetics of the COVID-19 virus in Ireland
  • Online resources to support healthcare professionals who have answered Ireland’s call for COVID-19
  • Why don’t we keep our distance? Evidence for more effective communication in the pandemic
  • Getting a measure of silent infection: a key to COVID-19 recovery planning

Dr Ivan Perry, UCC, also received funding for his project “Covid-19: Estimating the burden of symptomatic disease in the community and the impact of public health measures on physical, mental and social wellbeing”.

This initiative is overseen by a coordinated Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme established by the Health Research Board (HRB), Irish Research Council (IRC), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

SFI announcement and full list of funded projects