Over 1.2 million coronavirus genomes have been sequenced from 172 countries and territories and shared on the GISAID (the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) data platform.

The sequenced data have been crucial to scientists studying the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19 outbreaks, and the movement of viral variants across the planet, Nature reported.

“Because countries are submitting data from so many parts of the world, you have a system where we can watch how the virus spreads through the world, and see if control measures and the vaccines still work,” Sebastian Maurer-Stroh, a Singapore-based scientific adviser at the GISAID — a German non-profit organisation.

GISAID was launched in 2016 as a database for sharing flu genomes. The first SARS-CoV-2 genome was added to the database in January 2020 from China. It was followed by Africa, Australia, the UK, and other countries, and now there are viral sequences from 172 different countries.

Some wealthy countries have uploaded huge numbers of sequences – the US has shared 303,359 sequences, while the UK shared 379,510 sequences.

However, there are countries who have not shared a single SARS-CoV-2 sequence, such as Tanzania. Others though had significant outbreaks, including El Salvador (67,851 cases, but only 6 sequences uploaded) and Lebanon (513,006 cases, 49 sequences uploaded) are lagging far behind, the report said.