Considerations for developing a national genomic surveillance strategy or action plan for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential

Pathogen genomic surveillance has become a priority for public health systems in recent years. Genomic sequencing is increasingly being used to characterize pathogens and monitor important public health priorities (e.g. poliovirus, influenza virus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Vibrio cholerae, antimicrobial resistance (AMR)). The decrease in cost and time of sequencing and the exponential development of bioinformatic pipelines have played a critical role in integrating pathogen genomics into routine public health surveillance. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the role that sequencing plays in the surveillance of infectious diseases. Sequencing facilitates earlier detection, more accurate investigation of outbreaks, closer real-time monitoring of pathogen evolution and tailored development and evaluation of interventions to inform local to global public health decision-making and action. However, there remains a need to coordinate efforts, leverage and link existing surveillance and laboratory networks and capabilities, and systematically integrate genetic sequence data (GSD) with clinical and epidemiological data to strengthen its utility.