Technical FAQs

We are a small team with a big job, and we are thrilled to be getting so much attention and support at this time. We have started to receive a lot of questions regarding technical aspects of the Coronavirus build, including questions about data sourcing, narratives translation, and software development. We’re finding it hard to keep up with email enquiries right now, so here are answers to the questions we receive most frequently.

I’d like to help out with Nextstrain development. How should I get started?

We welcome development contributions to Nextstrain! Please see our contributing philosophy and development page.

I speak a language the Nextstrain Narratives isn’t currently available in, and I would love to help with translating. How do I get started?

If you would like to help with translating Nextstrain Narratives, please check out our documentation about translations here.

How can I get access to hCoV-19/SARS-CoV-2 sequence data?

The data for our hCoV-19/nCoV/COVID-19 analysis is generously provided by GISAID, a platform that collects, curates, and maintains sequence data for the current outbreak. We cannot redistribute this data. Please visit for more information about how the data are collected and made available.

I’d like to try running my own instance of Nextstrain. Where should I start?

If you are trying to set up Nextstrain for yourself locally, please start by reading our documentation. While we try to help with troubleshooting, we are a lot more swamped than usual right now.

Can I peruse, use, or adapt the Nextstrain code base?

Our code is open source, and you can find it on You can use it, fork it, and adapt it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL). Nextstrain is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Affero General Public License for more details.

Can I use images and videos from the Nextstrain site?

You are welcome to use images and videos from the Nextstrain website. You can use screenshots/screen-recording, or scroll to the very bottom of the site where we have a ‘download data’ button; this will allow you to download SVG files for further editing. Please attribute these to with a link.

I am a journalist and I’m trying to get in touch with someone at Nextstrain. Who should I contact?

Please route your enquiry to Claire Hudson, our communications manager at Fred Hutch (crhudson[at]fredhutch[dot]org). We care a lot about science communication and we are talking with the media, but we remain academic labs and we care about preserving the privacy of the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research techs working in the Bedford and Neher Labs. Please do not reach out to our researchers directly.

All source code is freely available under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License. Screenshots may be used under a CC-BY-4.0 license and attribution to must be provided.

This work is made possible by the open sharing of genetic data by research groups from all over the world. We gratefully acknowledge their contributions. Special thanks to Kristian Andersen, David Blazes, Peter Bogner, Matt Cotten, Ana Crisan, Gytis Dudas, Vivien Dugan, Karl Erlandson, Nuno Faria, Jennifer Gardy, Becky Kondor, Dylan George, Ian Goodfellow, Betz Halloran, Christian Happi, Jeff Joy, Paul Kellam, Philippe Lemey, Nick Loman, Sebastian Maurer-Stroh, Oliver Pybus, Andrew Rambaut, Colin Russell, Pardis Sabeti, Katherine Siddle, Kristof Theys, Dave Wentworth, Shirlee Wohl and Nathan Yozwiak for comments, suggestions and data sharing.


© 2015-2020 Trevor Bedford and Richard Neher