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."