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The Power of Genomics to Understand the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wellcome Genome Campus via FutureLearn


See how viral genomics can improve the response to COVID-19 and future pandemics

Genomics is crucial in understanding and responding to pandemics, including COVID-19.

On this three-week course, you’ll learn key concepts in viral genomics, how they can be applied to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they can help us prepare for future pandemics.

Explore genome sequencing and the SARS-CoV-2 genome

The course starts with a review of how viruses cause diseases and pandemics, examining the factors that can lead to a public health emergency.

You’ll also get a comprehensive introduction to the SARS-CoV-2 genome structure, and learn how genome sequencing is used in COVID-19 surveillance.

Learn about COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics development

Once you’re comfortable with the basics of genome sequencing and the contributing factors of pandemics, you’ll move on to vaccines and therapeutics.

You will have an overview of the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines and the available treatments of the disease, and you’ll gain further insights into the impact of viral variants.

Understand why viral genomic surveillance is critical

You’ll see how sharing genomic sequencing helps experts understand disease epidemiology, allowing them to give better advice and to be more prepared for the future.

Ultimately, this course will show you how important genomics is for developing effective strategies, not only against the COVID-19 pandemic but, importantly, against pandemics in general.

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about the genomics response to the current pandemic. While no prior knowledge about COVID-19 is required, it is likely to be most useful to researchers, healthcare professionals, science journalists, policymakers, and those working in public health.


  • Pandemics and their origins
    • Welcome to the course
    • Welcome to Week 1
    • Viruses, outbreaks and pandemics
    • Genetic knowledge for pandemic action
    • Pandemic Knowledge Sharing
    • End of Week 1
  • Viruses, Variants and Vaccines
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • Viruses and their mechanisms
    • Vaccines and Genomics
    • Viral variants and their impact
    • End of Week 2
  • Epidemiology and Tracking in a pandemic
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • Epidemiology and surveillance
    • Lessons learned: What can be done better?
    • End of Week 3

Taught by

Leigh Jackson


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 52 ratings

Start your review of The Power of Genomics to Understand the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • I thought this course did a fantastic job of covering the topic of Genomics. I have taken entry-level classes in chemistry and biology, so the content made sense to me. If you haven't taken any science courses, this class would be complex. I recommend looking into other beginner courses before this course if you don't understand the basics of cells.

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