H7N9 sequencing in China – Where is BGI?

There have been some news stories recently suggesting that although the Chinese authorities are doing their best, they just don’t have the experience or resources to properly test or sequence the samples they have.

This is complete nonsense written by people with little or no knowledge of the state of Chinese biotechnology.

BGI, originally the Beijing Genomics Center, is perhaps the best funded sequencing center in the world. They have received billions of dollars from the Chinese government. With this money, they have bought massive numbers of Next Generation sequencers, some of the biggest computers in the world and hired an army of bioinformaticians. All to sequence and analyze DNA.

When a novel bacteria was killing people in Germany, they had sequenced the complete genome in three days. A viral genome is much smaller than a bacterial genome. They could sequence every single incoming clinical sample of H7N9 on a daily basis. Developing assays to test samples for the presence of H7N9 would be childs play for them. So why aren’t they?

Jun Wang, executive director of BGI, is not a shy man. I’m sure he would love to be publishing and analyzing all of the H7N9 sequences. But he’s not talking. Why not?

Don’t let anyone tell you China can’t do more testing or sequencing of H7N9 samples. They quite easily could. They are making a conscious decision not to.


Inside China’s Genome Factory, MIT Technology Review, February 11, 2013

The complete map of the Germany E coli O104 genome released. June 16, 2011.


2 thoughts on “H7N9 sequencing in China – Where is BGI?

  1. I guess, it’s all about writing papers. Being the first who has the sequences and writes a paper about it. I assume scientists get money or/and reputation and/or advantages in their career
    for writing papers and being the first one who reports. So they submit to GISAID or wait
    until the paper is ready

  2. Or they are indeed doing the sequencing – for whatever reason, they are just not publicising the findings. I find that much more likely..

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