How public health authorities can use pathogen genomics in health protection practice: a consensus-building Delphi study conducted in the United Kingdom

Nicholas Killough, Lynsey Patterson, The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, Sharon J. Peacock, Declan T. Bradley*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Pathogen sequencing guided understanding of SARS-CoV-2 evolution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many health systems developed pathogen genomics services to monitor SARS-CoV-2. There are no agreed guidelines about how pathogen genomic information should be used in public health practice. We undertook a modified Delphi study in three rounds to develop expert consensus statements about how genomic information should be used. Our aim was to inform health protection policy, planning and practice. Participants were from organisations that produced or used pathogen genomics information in the United Kingdom. The first round posed questions derived from a rapid literature review. Responses informed statements for the subsequent rounds. Consensus was accepted when 70 % or more of the responses were strongly agree/agree, or 70 % were disagree/strongly disagree on the five-point Likert scale. Consensus was achieved in 26 (96 %) of 27 statements. We grouped the statements into six categories: monitoring the emergence of new variants; understanding the epidemiological context of genomic data; using genomic data in outbreak risk assessment and risk management; prioritising the use of limited sequencing capacity; sequencing service performance; and sequencing service capability. The expert consensus statements will help guide public health authorities and policymakers to integrate pathogen genomics in health protection practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000912
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 06 Feb 2023

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