The Luxembourg National Public Health Laboratory (LNS) has set up a platform for microbial genomics, which collects data that enables scientists to analyse the origin of the coronavirus virus strains currently circulating in Luxembourg.

In total, the DNA of 2,550 positive Covid-19 samples has been sequenced so far. This allows almost real-time monitoring of the virus and to find out how rapidly it is changing. Currently, the mutation rate of the virus is approximately 2-3 DNA blocks per month, so it is important to collect and store this data.

This can further indicate how the virus is developing once vaccinations begin.

The announcement was made by the LNS on Wednesday. Currently, 3 main strains are present in Luxembourg. The most widespread form is currently circulating in Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The second strain would have appeared in the Grand Duchy for the first time in spring this year and most likely will have come from Spain, while the third type could have been of Dutch origin.

The national programme has also been recognised internationally, underlines LNS Director Prof Dr Friedrich Mühlschlegel: "The highly collaborative approach of the LNS across institutions in Luxembourg during the last months has been vital in successfully dealing with the enormous challenge posed by COVID-19."

"The sequencing activity at the LNS and our collaborations with research institutions such as the University of Luxembourg, the LIH and the LIST, as well as with partner laboratories are another perfect examples of our approach. The national genomic surveillance program was orchestrated with the Direction de la Santé providing a new model of public health microbiology in Luxembourg."