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Helix Wins $5M CDC Contract for Pan-Respiratory Viral Surveillance Program

NEW YORK – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded a $5 million contract to Helix to create a pan-respiratory viral surveillance program, the firm announced on Thursday.

The program will standardize linkage of viral sequencing data to clinical and demographic data across a multisite network, using Helix's proprietary Viral Sequencing Respiratory Panel.

Specifically, it will identify and track more than 30 respiratory viral variants — including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinovirus — along with de-identified health data for as many as 16,000 samples per year.

Helix will partner with Providence healthcare system in Renton, Washington, and HealthPartners healthcare system in Bloomington, Minnesota, for the program. Providence covers patients across seven states with more than 28 million patient visits per year, while HealthPartners serves more than 1 million patients.

As part of the contract, Helix will also create infrastructure to standardize the processes for consent, sample selection and transfer, and data reporting, as well as returning data back to participating health system sites to inform their analyses and decisions.

Helix and Illumina established the first public-private partnership with the CDC to launch SARS-CoV-2 variant sequencing as part of national surveillance efforts in January 2021.

Helix recently extended its agreement with the CDC to sequence more than 3,000 SARS-CoV-2 samples per week for the next year, with the option to double the number of samples during surges.

A year ago, Helix was also awarded $898,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation's Pandemic Prevention Institute to advance its infrastructure, data systems, and technology for genomic surveillance of viral pathogens, and the firm has partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific and Rosalind on SARS-CoV-2 genotyping with support from the National Institutes of Health's RADx initiative.