COVID-19 began spreading in New York City 'a few months ago,' says NYU Langone genetic researchers

The coronavirus has been spreading in New York City for a few months and before testing started in the U.S., according to NYU Langone Health scientists who have identified the genetic code for COVID-19.

The genetic code has been identified from viral samples taken from 75 New York City patients.

The NYU Langone Health team determined the viral sequences from samples collected from the nasal swabs of patients at Tisch Hospital, NYU Winthrop Hospital and NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn.

Additionally, the genetic codes in most local viral samples indicate they originated in Europe, according to researchers.

"The value of determining viral local sequences is that – the more that become available – the better we can monitor the spread and severity of the disease – and the more it can clarify which drugs, vaccines or social interventions are effective here," said Adriana Heguy, PhD, director of NYU Langone's genome technology center, according to the April 8 news release emailed to Becker's Hospital Review.

Dr. Heguy said NYU Langone Health will begin capture sequencing, which is a technique to determine the order of the RNA sequence for the virus from each patient sample, 192 viral samples per week. The health system plans to offer thousands of sequences for analysis in the near future.

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