24 Sep 2020

Covid-19: NZ should be doing 'everything possible' to get genomic sequence of every sample - scientist

From Morning Report, 7:16 am on 24 September 2020

A leading New Zealand scientist says New Zealand's genomic sequencing is top rate, but we need to make sure we are getting genetic sequence from every Covid-19 sample to close any gaps in our genomic surveillance.

Mike Bunce, a geneticist and top scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority and author of a new report on the role of genomics in responding to Covid-19, says the most likely explanation for the Auckland Covid-19 outbreak is that it came from managed isolation.

Professor Bunce says during the first wave of the pandemic, genome sequencing was not a priority and only half of positive test samples from managed quarantine facilities were sequenced.

Therefore it was not possible to rule managed isolation or quarantine in or out as the source of the outbreak, but it seems most likely.

Professor Bunce speaks to Susie Ferguson.