Enhancing Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) and/or Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) national infrastructures and capacities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands

NLWGSHERA1aimed at enhancing and improving national public health WGS capacity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands by contributing to efficient and high-capacity WGS monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 variants in the short-term, and to enhancing genomic-based infectious diseases surveillance and outbreak investigation capacities in the long term.

The NLWGSHERA1 project started in September 2021 and was completed in January 2023.


  • Establishment of WGS capacity in the Dutch overseas territories (OCTs) by equipping and training personnel in 2 OCT laboratories
  • Increase of WGS knowledge and skill base in the Netherlands and enhancement of the SARS-CoV-2 sequencing network (SeqNeth)
  • Data sharing, technical and legal preparation for future development of an integrated national surveillance system through mapping of data flows and user rights models.


The project results were summarised in the report Improving laboratory-based surveillance of infectious diseases in the Netherlands


RIVM coordinated NLWGSHERA1 in collaboration with AMC and Erasmus MC.

RIVM role

RIVM had a leading role not only as project coordinator but also as lead for Specific Objectives 2.2.1 WGS capacity and capability and 2.2.3 Data sharing. RIVM was also involved in Specific Objective 2.2.2 Training, co-led by AMC and Erasmus MC. Dr Doctor (Doctor) Anoek Backx was the project coordinator, Dr Harry Vennema and Dr Ivo van Walle were the leads for Specific Objectives 2.2.1 and 2.2.3, respectively. More RIVM staff members were involved.


 This project received funding from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) under grant agreement No ECDC/HERA/2021/018/ECD.12233.