Exchanging SARS-CoV-2 mutational information in a fast and accessible way is becoming more important as specific mutations arise (e.g. D614G). While these mutations are predominantly inconsequential to both the virus and the host, being able to compare mutation frequencies across regions or countries enables a range of applications. For example, a sudden change in the observed frequencies can indicate a newly emerging outbreak cluster or comparing the occurrence of individual mutations around the world might identify a mutation of potential clinical consequence.

A well established genomic variant sharing protocol in the human genomics space is Beacon, Β developed by the Global Alliance for Genomic Health. Together with our collaborators and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), we've adapted the Beacon protocol to creating a purpose-built viral-variation exchange platform, that can serve out viral mutation frequencies from distributed data sources. This helps preserve data ownership, while enabling insights created from separate data sources.

In March 2020 DNAstack announced that they also successfully adapted Beacon to cater for RNA virus data resulting in the COVID-19 Beacon. Below we outline the differences between the two implementations. E.g. CSIRO's COVID Beacon, extends our Serverless Beacon, a cloud-native implementation of the Beacon protocol, which reduces resource consumption up to 500-fold, COVID-19 sBeacon is one of the most resource-efficient and functionally rich solutions for sharing viral variant information.

Beacon COVID-19 Beacon COVID-19 sBeacon
variant frequency βœ” βœ” βœ”
IUPAC allowed 𐄂 βœ” βœ”
Range search 𐄂 𐄂 βœ”
Clades 𐄂 𐄂 - (under-development)
custom denominator 𐄂 𐄂 βœ”