Inadequate sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 variants prevents the overall response to COVID-19

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Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus, isolated from a patient. Image captured and enhanced in color at NIAID’s Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

The lack of sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 variants by the United States and other countries threatens the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, argues Dana Crawford of Case Western Reserve University in a new perspective published July 15 in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Monitoring is essential to have a quick and successful response , But it has traditionally focused on tracking the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Advances in genome sequencing now allow us to keep track evolving virus with unprecedented detail. However, despite the availability of sequencing in several countries, the adoption of genomics as a strategy for surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has been slow, difficult, and inconsistent. Crawford notes that in early April 2021, the United States ranked 33rd in the world in SARS-CoV-2 sequencing for variant surveillance. She says that historically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not prioritized genomic research for public health, and this bias has created an open gap in our understanding of the real-time evolution of SARS. -CoV-2 and impact on and gravity.

Crawford cites insufficient funding, the lack of an effective sample tracking system, and strict regulations on the distribution of samples and data as causes of inadequate sequencing efforts. However, other countries, such as China and the United Kingdom, have successfully overcome these challenges. Recently, the CDC pledged more than $ 200 million to improve sequencing, but Crawford notes that this late investment means the United States does not have an organized database of patient information for COVID-19 studies. He warns that investments in SARS-CoV-2 genomics should continue and expand, as new variants are likely to emerge due to variability in vaccination rates and adherence to COVID-19 precautions throughout the world. world.

Since SARS-CoV-2 is a new zoonotic disease without previous human infections, Crawford argues that sequencing and analysis are vital to understanding both the trajectory of the outbreak and its evolution. Provisions are also needed to link genetic data to clinical and epidemiological data sources for public health research. Finally, he concludes that international sequencing efforts are still needed to understand and respond to this constantly evolving virus that has no international borders.

“Control of COVID-19 requires almost real-time genomic and public health data on the host pathogen to monitor how SARS-CoV-2 has evolved and how this evolution affects the transmission and severity of the disease.” , adds Crawford. “Sequencing efforts in the United States and the world have been too few and too disconnected, underscoring the need to engage with human genomics and integrate their technologies into emerging infectious diseases. answers. ”


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More information:
Crawford DC, Williams SM (2021) Global variation in sequencing impedes SARS-CoV-2 surveillance. PLoS Genet 17 (7): e1009620. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009620

Citation: Inadequate sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 variants prevents the overall response to COVID-19 (2021, July 15) retrieved July 15, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07- inadequate-sequencing-sars-cov- variants-impedes.html

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