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Boost to Surveillance

The Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network is boosting its genomic surveillance capacity to better spot emerging SARS-CoV-2 strains, the Canadian Press reports.

It adds that the network was established in April 2020 as part of Genome Canada and currently sequences about 5 percent of COVID-19-positive samples in Canada. The group now aims to increase that to 10 percent of samples, it says. By comparison, the US sequences less than 1 percent of samples, and the UK about 10 percent.

The Canadian Press adds that viral variants of concern have been identified in all provinces, and that 601 of the 638 of those cases were the variant first identified in the UK. 

"We actually were faster than the US in identifying this [UK] variant in December, as soon as we started our sampling strategy. We were immediately able, in almost a week, to report some of those variants present in Canada," Catalina Lopez-Correa, the executive director of the network, tells the Canadian Press. "Being at 5 percent is already a good number. We're trying to push that to be closer to what the UK is doing."

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.