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Factors affecting turnaround time of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing for inpatient infection prevention and control decision making: analysis of data from the COG-UK HOCI study

Colton, Hayley; Parker, Matthew D.; Stirrup, Oliver; Blackstone, James; Loose, Matthew; McClure, C. Patrick; Roy, Sunando; Williams, Charlotte; McLeod, Julie; Smith, Darren; Taha, Yusri; Zhang, Peijun; Hsu, Sharon Nienyun; Kele, Beatrix; Harris, Kathryn; Mapp, Fiona; Williams, R.; COG-UK HOCI Investigators, COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium; Flowers, Paul; Breuer, Judith; Partridge, David G.; de Silva, Thushan I.


Hayley Colton

Matthew D. Parker

Oliver Stirrup

James Blackstone

Professor of Developmental and Computational Biology

Sunando Roy

Charlotte Williams

Julie McLeod

Darren Smith

Yusri Taha

Peijun Zhang

Sharon Nienyun Hsu

Beatrix Kele

Kathryn Harris

Fiona Mapp

R. Williams

COG-UK HOCI Investigators, COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium

Paul Flowers

Judith Breuer

David G. Partridge

Thushan I. de Silva


Barriers to rapid return of sequencing results can affect the utility of sequence data for infection prevention and control decisions.

To undertake a mixed-methods analysis to identify challenges that sites faced in achieving a rapid turnaround time (TAT) in the COVID-19 Genomics UK Hospital-Onset COVID-19 Infection (COG-UK HOCI) study.

For the quantitative analysis, timepoints relating to different stages of the sequencing process were extracted from both the COG-UK HOCI study dataset and surveys of study sites. Qualitative data relating to the barriers and facilitators to achieving rapid TATs were included from thematic analysis.

The overall TAT, from sample collection to receipt of sequence report by infection control teams, varied between sites (median 5.1 days, range 3.0–29.0 days). Most variation was seen between reporting of a positive COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) result to sequence report generation (median 4.0 days, range 2.3–27.0 days). On deeper analysis, most of this variability was accounted for by differences in the delay between the COVID-19 PCR result and arrival of the sample at the sequencing laboratory (median 20.8 h, range 16.0–88.7 h). Qualitative analyses suggest that closer proximity of sequencing laboratories to diagnostic laboratories, increased staff flexibility and regular transport times facilitated a shorter TAT.

Integration of pathogen sequencing into diagnostic laboratories may help to improve sequencing TAT to allow sequence data to be of tangible value to infection control practice. Adding a quality control step upstream to increase capacity further down the workflow may also optimize TAT if lower quality samples are removed at an earlier stage.


Colton, H., Parker, M. D., Stirrup, O., Blackstone, J., Loose, M., McClure, C. P., …de Silva, T. I. (2023). Factors affecting turnaround time of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing for inpatient infection prevention and control decision making: analysis of data from the COG-UK HOCI study. Journal of Hospital Infection, 131, 34-42.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 10, 2022
Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 20, 2022
Journal Journal of Hospital Infection
Print ISSN 0195-6701
Electronic ISSN 1532-2939
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 131
Pages 34-42
Keywords turnaround time, sequencing, Infection control, SARS-CoV-2
Public URL
Publisher URL


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