“I was up all last night,” says Nnaemeka Ndodo, a molecular bioengineer at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Abuja. He sequences coronavirus genomes during the day, and then analyses and uploads the results to an online database at night, working tirelessly alongside his colleagues. “We don’t know Saturday, we don’t know Sunday,” he says.
Researchers around the world are racing to spot variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 so that they can determine whether the mutated viruses will evade vaccines or make COVID-19 deadlier. Like many scientists, Ndodo shares SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences in a popular data repository, GISAID, that requires users to sign in and to credit those whose data they analyse.