Global Sequencing Capability Notes

I’ve been trying to come up with a rough estimate for the total worldwide sequencing capability. To estimate this, I tried to estimate the number of instruments deployed for popular sequencing platforms. In most cases vendors don’t make these available, but I’ve documented my thought below. The numbers below represent my estimates as of December 31st 2021.

Based on this estimate we could currently sequence 2.2 Exabases a year, or 70 Gigabases/s.

This of course assumes that we could keep all instruments supplied with reagents, this is likely not the case for all instruments. But the NovaSeqs alone account for about two thirds of the total sequencing capacity, and I suspect Illumina are in a position to keep these fully stocked with reagents.

While 3 Exabases seems like a awful lot, it’s worth noting that this still isn’t enough to sequence every human born. Somewhere in the region of 4 children are born a second, our 100Gb/s wouldn’t even let us fully sequence one of them (at 30x).

If we assume we can multiplex at most 384 samples per run, then we can potentially run 2 billion samples a year. Again, this seems like a lot, but according to some sources over 15 billion COVID tests have been performed over the course of the pandemic, with Abbott alone shipping 1.4 Billion tests.

So, if sequencing is eating the world, then there’s still a lot of room for growth.

Estimates and Spreadsheet files

MinION Estimates:

Oxford Nanopore 2021 financial reports state that there are 5501 active customers using MinIONs. They also state that the MinION is designed as a first instrument, before users move to higher throughput platforms. It therefore seems likely that the majority of customers only have one MinION that they actively use, before progressing to higher throughput instruments. As such we have set the estimate here as the number of active customers (5501).

GridION Estimates:

Similar to the MinION, the GridION is a lower throughput instrument, as such it likely does not make sense for a user to have multiple GridIONs, if they exceed instrument capacity a PromethION would be a more logical choice. As such we have set the instrument estimate as the number of active customers presented in the 2021 financials (782).

PromethION Estimates:

G42 are likely the largest user of the promethION. The image in the news report here shows ~12 instruments all of which are promethION 48s. Other sites (1 2 3 4 5) appear to use the PromethION 24, with little advantage to owning 2 PromethION 24s over a single 48, it is likely that these site have a single instrument. With 56 total customers, we can guess that G42 have 12 instruments, and other users have single instruments, giving a total of 67. For simplicity and to compensate for any under-estimation here, we will assume these are all PromethION 48s. 

Illumina Estimates:

I used two methods to estimate numbers here, for the spreadsheet I went back through JPM presentations for 2019 to 2022 (based on Shawn Baker’s suggestion, thanks Shawn!). The 2019 presentation had full instrument counts. The 2022 presentation has all “lower end” instruments lumped together and as such I’ve kept these in the same row, same goes for NextSeqs (the 550 and 2000s and all together, and I used the 2000 throughput, so this is very much an upper bound).

Previously I used the following:

Illumina presentations state their 2021 shipments as follows:

NovaSeq: 380, NextSeq: 1175, MiSeq/Mini/iSeq: 1680

Using 2021 shipments we can estimate the product mix breakdown as follows:

NovaSeq: 11.7%, NextSeq: 36.3%, MiSeq/Mini/iSeq: 51.9%

Illumina also state there are >20000 total instruments installed. Using these percentages suggests:

2340 NovaSeqs, 7260 NextSeqs, 10380 MiSeq/Mini/iSeqs

Ion Torrent Estimates:

Ion Torrent have an estimated 10% market share, Illumina almost complete dominates the rest of the market. Using this we would estimate that Ion Torrent have at most 10% of the Illumina total install base or 2220 instruments.

Pacific Biosciences Estimates:

PacBio shipped 374 instruments in 2021. Their total install base was 203 as of December 2020. As such, they have a total of 577 instruments placed as of December 31st 2022.

MGI Estimates:

MGI is the hardest to estimate as they may have significant market share in China, where we don’t have good data. A press release from January 2019 states that they have installed 1000 instruments. A press release from July 2022 simply states “thousands”. MGI have been restricted from selling instruments in many countries, which may have limited their growth. We’d therefore estimate that there are likely only a few thousand instruments installed, 2000 seems like a reasonable estimate. We use their mid-range instrument as representative of their range, as we have no accurate breakdown of instrument deployments.

UPDATE: I broke out T7 throughput, but it’s really hard to find T7 numbers. I’ve only seen one quoted sale of a T7 instrument (to GeneWiz). I suspect most T7s exist within MGI service labs. “10” seems like a reasonable random number to select, particular given I doubt these instruments could be used in the US in 2021.

Spreadsheet files:

Old Versions: