National Instituto (of Portugal) Dr. Ricardo Jorge uses Open Source to combat COVID-19

National Instituto (of Portugal) Dr. Ricardo Jorge uses Open Source to combat COVID-19

2020- 03- 16

It was through the new generation of sequencing and bioinformatics analysis technologies, available at INSaFLU (“INSide the FLU”), that the researchers at the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Institute have laboratory amplified the genetic material of the virus, that allowed identify the complete genome  sequence of the firsts virus cases in Portugal.

This platform initially developed for the Influenza virus, was created by the Bioinformatics Nucleus and the National Reference Laboratory for the Influenza Virus, under the coordination of the researcher Vítor Borges and with the contribution of the bioinformatics Miguel Pinheiro (University of Aveiro) and according to the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, is an online platform with free access and easy to use for the integration analysis of the influenza virus genome.

The identification of the genome is important to understanding the outbreak, namely in terms of determining its origin. Viruses undergo several mutations that may not affect the characteristics, symptoms or effects caused, but that help in tracking and understanding the spread of the disease, which in turn prove to be fundamental in containing and controlling future outbreaks.

These results were also shared worldwide on the Nextstrain online platforms and on the GISAID, repository, which are also open sharing platforms that promote joint advances.

Gisaid is essentially a genome sharing platform. While Nextstrain studies the evolution of viruses and bacteria. Nextsrain allows, for example, to quickly visualize the spread of the virus through different regions while allowing to understand how local outbreaks are connected. Being an Open Source technology, all researchers can use the code for the most varied types of research projects, which in turn can contribute to a favorable advance in the landscape.

Although the virus genome is known, the patterns of dissemination are still unclear and these platforms may come to play a key role in the development of solutions, namely by contributing to the development of prophylactic measures (vaccines) and helping to direct the administered therapies.


Instituto Nacional de Saude Dr. Ricardo Jorge, 2020. Instituto Ricardo Jorge sequencia genoma de coronavírus associado aos dois primeiros casos de Covid-19 em Portugal [13-03-2020]. Disponível em:

Cision PR Newswire, 2020. COVID-19 + People + Technology x Open Source Data = Solutions [12 março 2020]. Disponível em:

Wired, 2020. Data Sharing and Open Source Software Help Combat Covid-19 [13-03-2020] Disponivel em: 

(pages consulted at March 16th, 2020)