Costa Rica Makes History on CoVid 19 sequencing

by on 04-30-2020 in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Makes History on CoVid 19 Sequencing


For the first time in Costa Rica, and a few weeks after being circulating in the country, the genomics group of the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (Incense) completed the sequencing of the entire genome of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.


After hard work, the National Reference Center for Microbiological Food Safety (CNRIMA), in collaboration with the National Reference Center for Virology (CNRV) of Incense, managed to sequence in their facilities the first genomes of the virus causing the COVID-19 disease.


The procedure was performed from 6 samples of patients diagnosed as positive by the CNRV, as part of its work to support epidemiological surveillance carried out by the Ministry of Health.


The results were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAD) platform, which is used globally, to share this type of information, thus making data from Costa Rica available to the world scientific community.


Two of the genomes obtained by Incense are close to the genomes obtained from samples analyzed in the United States. The other four genomes are located within clusters made up of virus strains found in different parts of the world.


Two of the genomes obtained by Incense are close to the genomes obtained from samples analyzed in the United States. The other four genomes are located within clusters made up of virus strains found in different parts of the world.



INCIENSA had already succeeded in sequencing the genome of several bacteria that cause diseases of public health interest, but it is the first time that it has been able to obtain the genome of a virus.


For doctors Francisco Duarte Martínez and Hebleen Brenes, who led the work team, this achievement and the scientific evidence that will continue to be generated from now on, will be useful for:


  • Know the dynamics and diversity of the viral population, in addition to the transmission routes in the country.
  • Strengthen analysis capabilities for the national network of laboratories.
  • Provide relevant information for the Ministry of Health and international organizations (PAHO / WHO).
  • Ensure the quality of laboratory diagnoses, providing information about the variability of gene banks used in molecular tests to detect the virus.
  • Contribute to provide information that allows to properly select future vaccines.
  • Carry out viral genomic surveillance in Costa Rica, without depending on the sending of samples to other countries.
  • Establish a platform for future collaborations with other national scientific centers and other countries in the world.


The work carried out by INCIENSA in this field has been carried out within the framework of the work of the Technical Council for Clinical Bioinformatics, led by the Ministry of Health.


The Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, congratulated the work of the Incense team, while acknowledging the capacity of Costa Rican scientists in the face of this important country achievement.



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