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Quest Diagnostics Wins CDC Contract to Sequence SARS-CoV-2 Samples

NEW YORK — Quest Diagnostics said Monday that it has secured a contract from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The aim of the project is to identify novel mutations in the virus and to better understand its prevalence and patterns of transmission throughout the US.

Quest will sequence the genomes of viruses from random de-identified patient samples it collects as part of providing molecular diagnostic testing and will provide CDC with these sequences. The agency will combine this data with other sequence data from national, state, academic, and commercial labs as part of its genomic survey of the virus.

"Public and private collaboration is essential to mobilizing an effective response to COVID-19," said Jay Wohlgemuth, senior VP and chief medical officer at Quest. "Quest has the expertise in genomics and infectious diseases, as well as extensive COVID-19 testing data and access to patient samples. Our program will complement and extend the efforts of the CDC to discover and track new virus mutations and thereby improve public health response to the pandemic."

Two weeks ago, Illumina and Helix also said they have received support from the CDC for sequencing SARS-CoV-2 in anonymized patient samples, with the goal of tracking the emergence and prevalence of the B.1.1.7 strain that first emerged in the UK.