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Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857 (Published 16 December 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4857

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Rapid Response:

Re: Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK - the emergence of COG-UK

Dear Editor

In November I wrote to Public Health England asking:

"In how many cases of Covid in the UK has the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus been established by DNA sequencing? Please provide information about the status of the cases."

On 10 December, just six days before the publication of this article by Jacqui Wise [1] I received this reply:

""PHE do not use sequencing as a diagnostic test for SARS-CoV 2. Sequencing is only attempted where a sample has already tested positive for SARS-CoV2 using a standard diagnostic PCR test. PHE is not aware of any instances where the presence of SARS-CoV 2 has been determined using sequencing."

So, no mention of COG-UK. I am puzzled, was there any public knowledge of COG-UK before the present episode? For instance, a search on "COG-UK" in Rapid Responses produces no results, so it was scarcely on the tip of everyone's tongue. What could have been the reason for apparently withholding the details of this no doubt very costly public enterprise?

[1] Jacqui Wise, 'Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK', BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857 (Published 16 December 2020)

Competing interests: AgeofAutism.com, an on-line daily journal, concerns itself with the potential environmental sources for the proliferation of autism, neurological impairment, immune dysfunction and chronic disease. I receive no payment as UK Editor. I also moderate comments for the on-line journal ‘The Defender’ for which I am paid. I am also a member of the UK Medical Freedom Alliance

29 December 2020
John Stone
UK Editor
AgeofAutism.com
London N22