COVseq is a cost-effective workflow for mass-scale SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance

Protocol Exchange
Anna SapinoAntonino Sottile

Abstract

Genomic surveillance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is critical to monitor the spread and evolution of the virus across different populations, geographical regions and species. Here, we present a streamlined workflow—COVseq—based on the CUTseq method that we previously described, which can be used to generate highly multiplexed sequencing libraries compatible with Illumina platforms, from hundreds of SARS-CoV-2 samples in parallel, in a rapid and cost-effective manner. We validated COVseq on RNA extracted from the supernatant of a SARS-CoV-2 culture as well as from 85 left-over samples from nasopharyngeal swabs, demonstrating the ability of COVseq to achieve almost complete genome coverage, including the S region encoding the spike protein. A cost analysis showed that COVseq could be used to sequence thousands of samples per week at less than 20 USD per sample. COVseq is a versatile and scalable method that can be readily applied for genomic surveillance of the ongoing pandemic and easily adapted to other pathogens such as influenza viruses.

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