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COVNET: Large-scale Genome-wide Association Study and Whole Genome Sequencing of COVID-19 Severity


The goal of COVNET is to conduct large genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and identify common and rare germline genetic variants associated with susceptibility to severe or fatal COVID-19 disease.

We plan to genotype DNA from as many as 40,000 COVID-19  positive individuals, defined on the basis of positive viral testing or strong epidemiologic data linked to serologic confirmation of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. The primary aim is to investigate both common and rare variants associated with differences in disease outcome using a case-case design.

The urgency of this pandemic necessitates new ways of organizing multi-institutional collaborations in order to share data in the shortest possible time.

We are using an academic “crowdsource” approach to accrue samples from multiple centers and studies throughout the U.S. and Canada. This approach will allow for recruitment of participants through direct contact with experts across the country.  We will collect biospecimens for analysis (including DNA, blood, or oral swab/saliva) linked to collected data on established covariates, including risk factors and clinical outcomes. The recruitment of studies is conducted through several pathways:

  1. COVNET: Participation of collaborating hospitals and research institutions who locally recruit participants through their IRB-approved protocol(s) and share de-identified samples and clinical data.
  2. NIH COVIDcode is an NIH IRB approved protocol that recruits from the NIH Clinical Center and local participating hospitals. Currently, the protocol requires a positive viral COVID-19 test result plus clinical and covariate data.
  3. NCI COVID-19 in Cancer Patients Study (NCCAPS): Prospective Study of COVID-19 in Cancer Patients.

Please refer to the COVNET Manual for additional details about biospecimen requirement, the analysis plan, data sharing plan and publication/authorship policy.

Contact Us

If you are interested or think you know someone or a group that could be interested in contributing to this effort, please contact DCEG/NCI:

Stephen Chanock, Lead Investigator, NIH
Sharon Savage, Investigator, NIH

Vibha Vij, Project Manager

Please use the Material Transfer Agreement template generated for this study in order to send us de-identified DNA, blood/blood products, buccal cells/saliva collected through your IRB-approved protocol for enrollment, collection, genetic analysis and sharing of data as per NIH policies. We can receive only de-identified samples and data that we would register as ‘non-human subject research’.

For information related to biospecimens, such as material types that you would like considered for extraction, shipping and storage, please contact Amy Hutchinson.

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “COVNET: Large-scale Genome-wide Association Study and Whole Genome Sequencing of COVID-19 Severity was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”