Evaluating the progress and impacts of the COG-UK consortium

Blue coronavirus cells and DNA, illustration by matejmo/Getty Images

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What is the issue?

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium has been set up to support rapid and large-scale whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As a collaborative effort between academic institutions, NHS organisations, the four UK public health agencies and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, COG-UK has a key role to play in understanding the virus and its transmission, and as such in informing the management and response to the COVID-19 crisis. COG-UK, in essence, connects genomics with public health.

The core aims of COG-UK are to:

  • provide data, analysis, tools and research that can help guide public health decision making and policy;
  • support national research studies and help enable future evaluations of the effectiveness of various pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions; and
  • help advance our understanding of genetic changes in the SARS-CoV-2 virus and their relation to the spread and severity of symptoms, which matters for the development of treatments and vaccines and for evaluating their effectiveness.

How are we helping?

RAND Europe has been commissioned by COG-UK to evaluate its progress and impact and to help COG-UK to:

  • understand how the consortium is delivering against its aims
  • learn about how effectively consortium activities and governance, operational and legal arrangements support delivery on its aims;
  • understand enablers of, and barriers to, progress, and how these barriers have been or could be overcome; and
  • provide formative learning of value for any potential future phases of the consortium and/or for other related efforts.

We will develop a theory of change for COG-UK and an associated evaluation framework. The evaluation will be implemented through a combination of self-reporting on key indicators by COG-UK, and stakeholder interviews involving the research community, public health authorities, health and care providers, policymakers and COG-UK funders.

The project hopes to provide learning and insights that should be relevant for future efforts to link genomics research with public health decision-making needs. As such, we hope that the insights gained will support future public health preparedness and response efforts.