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Into One System

Australia plans to move its genome sequencing labs onto one system, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

It notes that, currently, each state runs its own genome sequencing lab and that sharing data across them can be cumbersome. For instance, the Herald says researchers from one state lab have to ask another state for their data, which then has to be uploaded to a database and then downloaded, or the researchers have to turn to public databases. This disconnect between states was underscored, it notes, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What COVID-19 has done is really highlighted the need for this and pushed the development of it. This is a new technology, and we have not needed it before, but we need it now," Ben Howden from the Doherty Institute tells the Sydney Morning Herald.

The paper reports that a new AUS$3.3 million (US$2.4 million) initiative funded by the Australian government and with support from Illumina aims to have the labs all follow the same standards and enable real-time data sharing, as well as upgrade the labs' sequencing capacity. This, it adds, will enable better monitoring of COVID-19.