Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 2.3 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Executive summary

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.9 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Research Questions

  1. How did COG-UK deliver against its aims?
  2. What were the enablers and challenges the consortium experienced?
  3. What are the implications from the COG-UK experience for any potential future consortium phases and/or for other related pathogen genomics efforts?

The ability to sequence and understand different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and their impact is crucial to inform policy and public health decisions. Soon after the UK went into its first lockdown in March 2020, the CCOVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium was launched. COG-UK is a collaboration of experts in pathogen genomics including academic institutions, public health agencies, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, NHS Trusts and Lighthouse Labs. RAND Europe evaluated how COG-UK delivered against its objectives, for example how it contributed to advancing scientific knowledge about SARS-CoV-2, informing public health decisions, and providing information that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments. The evaluation also examined the diverse factors that influenced COG-UK progress and impact, including enablers and challenges, and considered implications for the future.

Key Findings

  • The consortium has helped advance scientific knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 and helped improve methodologies that can support high quality and efficient sequencing and pathogen genomics research and analysis.
  • COG-UK has also provided data and analytics that have informed key policy and public health decisions made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.
  • The sequencing and analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes and the linkage of genomics data to epidemiological and patient outcomes data by COG-UK partners have informed medical innovation efforts, including research related to vaccine efficacy against specific variants of SARS-CoV-2
  • COG-UK's data, research analytics, and dissemination efforts have also influenced how decision makers in the UK value and view the field of pathogen genomics
  • COG-UK's resources and activities have strengthened capacity for pathogen genomics, which, if sustained, has the potential to significantly bolster the UK’s ability to prepare and respond to future infectious disease threats.
  • COG-UK's approach to supporting pathogen-genomics sequencing, research and analysis, and learning from COG-UK's experience has also influenced international SARS-CoV-2 sequencing initiatives.
  • The consortium's evolution and impact have been affected by features internal to its structure and operations, and by a rapidly evolving and unpredictable external environment.
  • More specifically, key influences related to (1) the ability to mobilise and sustain individual and institutional commitment to consortium activities, including responsiveness to increasing demand for sequencing activities; (2) financial resources, physical and data infrastructure and human resources; and (3) the ability to navigate challenges related to the speed and unpredictability with which the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.


COG-UK has made a significant and valuable contribution to the UK's public health genomics landscape. Its legacy will depend on decision makers' abilities to:

  • Deliver public health genomics capacity guided by a clear, prioritised, long-term strategic plan
  • Maintain momentum and motivation to support a network that can bring together diverse organisations across the four nations
  • Ensure the involvement of all relevant actors and a sustainable division of labour
  • Ensure adequately funded governance, management and administrative arrangements
  • Advance data linkage in the public health landscape
  • Revisit the UK's role in the global pathogen genomics landscape

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.