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Oxford, Oracle Partner to Improve Identification of SARS-CoV-2 Variants

NEW YORK – Oracle said Sunday that it is teaming with the University of Oxford to create a technology platform to accelerate the identification of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Called the Global Pathogen Analysis System, or GPAS, the platform combines the UK university's Scalable Pathogen Pipeline Platform, or SP3, with the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to standardize, analyze, compare, and annotate SARS-CoV-2 sequencing data in search of novel variants that could undermine vaccine efficacy and prolong the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership builds on earlier work, funded by the Wellcome Trust, that involved Public Health Wales, the University of Cardiff, and Public Health England, and finds a new use for SP3, which had been developed to track tuberculosis outbreaks. The addition of the Oracle Cloud enhances SP3 processing power, security, and global collaboration, according to the Austin, Texas-based firm.

"The enhanced SP3 system will establish a global standard for pathogen data gathering and analysis, thus enabling medical researchers to better understand the COVID-19 virus and other microbial threats to public health," said Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman and CTO, in a statement.

"This powerful new tool will enable public health scientists in research establishments, public health agencies, healthcare services, and diagnostic companies around the world to help further understanding of infectious diseases, starting with the coronavirus," Derrick Crook, professor of microbiology in Oxford's Nuffield Department of Medicine, said in a statement.

"The Global Pathogen Analysis System will help to establish a global common standard for assembling and analyzing this new virus, as well as other microbial threats to public health. This adds a new dimension in our ability to process pathogen data," Crook added.

Oxford and Oracle said that they eventually plan on extending GPAS to all pathogens. The platform will be available for free to researchers and nonprofits worldwide.