June 2022 edition

NSW Health Pathology’s public health pathogen genomics service provided insights and data that enabled an agile, whole of health response to COVID‑19.

The service was recently awarded the Secretary’s Integrated Value Based Care Award.

Pathogen genomics is a ‘gold standard’ laboratory method used by the NSW Health Pathology public health pathogen genomics service, originally to identify the source of foodborne outbreaks in NSW.

Rapid adaptation from food outbreaks to COVID‑19

In late 2020, when COVID‑19 was first detected in NSW, the pathogen genomics service worked collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team including epidemiologists and researchers to rapidly design a novel genomics assay for COVID‑19.

Within two weeks of COVID‑19 being detected in NSW, the first genomes were generated. This allowed us to link importations from returning overseas travellers to known international hotspots.

Transformative impact of pathogen genomics to inform public health action

Genome sequencing has been extremely valuable for informing the public health response to COVID‑19. Integrating genomics with and traditional contact tracing was critical in illuminating transmission pathways. Genome sequencing continues to be used by the NSW Ministry of Health to rapidly identify the source of new clusters and to detect new variants of the virus.

Genome sequencing data has also been shared with public health laboratories and epidemiologists nationally and internationally to facilitate the recognition of cross‑jurisdictional spread of the virus.

Improved patient outcomes and experiences

Genomics has helped to combat the spread of COVID‑19 in NSW and has contributed to better patient experience and outcomes by:

  • ensuring infection control protocols in hospital settings were adequate
  • minimising spread within the community early in the pandemic
  • detecting resistance to antiviral drugs to inform patient care.

Congratulations to NSW Health Pathology and their partners for winning the 2021 Secretary’s Integrated Value Based Care Award.

More information

View the award winning NSW Health Pathology: Pathogen Genomics service in action.


Current as at: Wednesday 22 June 2022
Contact page owner: Strategic Reform and Planning