THE genomes of thousands of patients with coronavirus will be sequenced to understand how a person’s genetic make-up could influence susceptibility to the virus.

The study will sequence the whole genomes – the genetic code – of up to 20,000 people who were previously in intensive care or who are currently in intensive care at 170 NHS units across the UK.

For the research, Genomics England has partnered with the University of Edinburgh, the GenOMICC consortium, which includes NHS organisations and academic institutions, genetic analysis firm Illumina and the NHS.

Patients will have their results compared with 15,000 people who have suffered only mild symptoms.

Experts hope to explain why some patients with Covid-19 experience mild infection, but others require intensive care or go on to die. The team also hopes the knowledge gained will help the development of treatments to fight Covid-19 and inform future clinical trials.

Part of the study will also focus on children and young adults severely affected by Covid-19.

It is hoped all patients going into intensive care – with their consent or the consent of their next of kin – can be studied.