Since the beginning of this year, by order of the Federal Ministry of Health, 5 or 10 percent of the SARS-CoV-2-positive PCR results have been re-examined using whole genome sequence analysis in Germany. The aim is to discover the emergence of new mutants and document the spread of virus mutations. 


Bioscientia started sequencing in mid-January, immediately after the regulation came into force. By mid-April, all participating laboratories nationwide had reported around 27,000 virus genome sequences to the Robert-Koch-Institue. A good third of this comes from the genetic department in close cooperation with the infectious-molecular-biological department of the Bioscientia laboratory in Ingelheim: on April 15, the 10,000th sequence was transmitted from there to the RKI server.


The managing director and chief medical officer of Bioscientia, Dr. Oliver Harzer, is pleased with the success: "It was around Christmas that our geneticists and bioinformaticians established and validated the sequencing of the virus genomes for routine operation. We were then able to provide the vast majority of the sequenced results at very short notice, Thanks to the excellent networking, the short distances and the great team within our laboratory. In the meantime, many other colleagues have also established this method, but even after three months we still cover a third of the virus sequencing carried out in Germany, which makes us proud."


The positive samples for whole genome sequencing come primarily from the laboratories of Sonic Healthcare Germany, from university facilities and smaller laboratories without sequencing facilities, as well as from health authorities that are allowed to order sequencing in outbreak situations.

A total of 178 different already defined virus lineages were found. From January to April the increasing dominance of the British variant B.1.1.7 can be clearly observed: Most recently, the bioinformaticians at Bioscientia were able to assign over 89 percent of the mutations found to this line B.1.1.7. In contrast, the South African (1.2% in the most recent run) and Brazilian (0% in the most recent run) variants play practically no role.