The UK Government has launched a new nationwide human genome sequencing study of Covid-19 patients with both severe disease in the ICU, and those with mild and moderate symptoms in order to uncover the reasons why this viral disease has varied effects on patients.

This study of 35,000 patients across 170 hospital ICUs is being coordinated by Genomics England, the NHS, GenOMICC consortium and Illumina. Genomics England, the Department of Health and Social Care, UK Research and Innovation and the National Institutes of Health Research have committed £28m in funding for the project.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “As each day passes we are learning more about this virus, and understanding how genetic makeup may influence how people react to it is a critical piece of the jigsaw.

“This is a ground-breaking and far-reaching study which will harness the UK’s world-leading genomics science to improve treatments and ultimately save lives across the world.”

Dr Kenneth Baillie, Chief Investigator at the University of Edinburgh, leading this study, said: “Our genes play a role in determining who becomes desperately sick with infections like COVID-19. Understanding these genes will help us to choose treatments for clinical trials.”