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DNA Day in the time of COVID-19

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Today is DNA Day, commemorating the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953, two huge scientific milestones benefiting human health. Genomics creates a path toward personalized health insights that inspires hope for people around the world. Today, as the coronavirus pandemic continues across the globe, hope is exactly what we need.

So many mysteries still remain around COVID-19, including why it affects some people much more seriously than others. We know genetics can influence a person’s susceptibility to different infectious diseases — and COVID-19 is likely no exception. Researchers around the world are studying how our DNA can help determine just how vulnerable we are to this virus and pave the way for life-saving therapeutics and vaccines. Genomics is more important than ever.

The genomic revolution is powered by next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology that reads DNA and unlocks the mysteries hidden inside every living thing, helping solve some of humankind’s most challenging health problems – from personalizing cancer therapies to diagnosing rare diseases. What can genomics tell us about the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Can genomic insights help save lives and end this global pandemic?

On DNA day, I’d like to recognize the efforts of scientists, researchers and health care professionals who are using sequencing to identify and trace the virus, and develop therapies and vaccines, ensuring the long-term safety of ourselves and our loved ones. Sequencing enables the mass diagnostic testing capabilities the world desperately needs and regular screening capabilities to get people back to work and school safely. And surveillance by sequencing can help track viral transmission, monitor where outbreaks are happening around the world, and enable quick containment of those outbreaks, while preparing us for the next global public health crisis.

We must all continue to band together, and humanity will end up stronger for it on the other side. To learn more about some of the current COVID-19 genomics efforts, click here. Happy DNA Day, everyone. Be safe.