HPI and UKE introduce systematic early surveillance system with support from the city of Hamburg

Tuesday, 16. February 2021

Hamburg. The Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI), together with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), is making an important contribution to supporting the public health system in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. HPI's Research Group Virus Genomics and the NGS technology platform as well as UKE's Institute of Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene have jointly developed a sequence-based SARS-CoV-2 surveillance and early warning system. The platform builds on research in viral genomics that HPI and UKE have been conducting in patient samples for several years. Now HPI and UKE are funded by the Hamburg Senate for six months with about 377,000 euros.

Against the background of the spread of variants with increased transmissibility and possibly increased ability to (re-)infect recovered or vaccinated individuals, a systematic overall surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 mutations is of great importance. With the support of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, approximately 4,000 of the SARS-CoV-2 cases occurring in Hamburg will be sequenced over the next six months. The sequence data will be analyzed using computer-assisted methods and subsequently evaluated by a joint HPI/UKE team of experts in order to be able to detect at an early stage the spread of already known mutations, but also the emergence of possible new ones.

Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, HPI and UKE have sequenced and analyzed more than 1,700 SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Sequence data have been collected from a systematic cross-section of all SARS-CoV-2 samples received by UKE to monitor virus arrivals in Hamburg, to track the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and, in particular, to closely monitor and evaluate genetic changes of the pathogen in the metropolitan region. Sequence analyses commissioned by Hamburg health departments and authorities have also already been able to make an important contribution in the investigation of local outbreaks in hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

The Hamburg-based viral genomics surveillance platform is also an important component of the collection of SARS-CoV-2 sequence data nationwide. The data is also forwarded to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in accordance with the federal regulation CorSuRV, which has been in force since January 18, 2021.


HPI contact:

Prof. Dr. Adam Grundhoff


Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology,



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