Iceland is the global leader in sequencing samples of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a recent Washington Post article. Iceland has sequenced 56.2% of all COVID-19 cases that have been diagnosed in the country since the start of the pandemic. The US, for comparison, has sequenced 3.6%. Sequencing is a useful tool in contact tracing and curbing the spread of infection.
Second place on the list after Iceland was Denmark, with 46.6% of samples sequenced. It was followed by Australia in third place with 21.4% of samples sequenced. Luxembourg and Norway rounded out the top five, with 20% and 13% respectively. Sequencing results can be shared globally through the GISAID initiative, which provides a global database of coronavirus genomes.
The article points out that the nations with the highest sequencing rates are largely European countries that also have high vaccination rates. Over 89% of Iceland’s eligible population (12 years and over) is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Around one-third of the population has received a booster shot. Scientists have encouraged rich countries to campaign for a more equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as highly-transmissible variants are more likely to emerge when the SARS-CoV-2 virus circulates among unvaccinated populations.