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Global 'Force' to Track Viral Variants

Francis deSouza, the CEO of Illumina, says governments and companies should work together on a global SARS-CoV-2 genomics surveillance network, the Financial Times reports.

That way, he adds, new data about emerging variants can quickly be shared to ensure that vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tests are still effective against new variants. New SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified in the UK, South Africa, Brazil, California, and elsewhere, with some of the alterations they harbor raising concerns. The B.1.1.7 lineage identified in the UK, for instance, appears to spread more easily, while vaccines appear to have a weaker response against the B.1.351 lineage identified in South Africa.

DeSouza tells the Financial Times that the UK, which sequences about 10 percent of positive SARS-CoV-2 samples, has been a leader in viral genomics surveillance and adds that other countries are beginning to follow suit.

"We have an Air Force and in the US, we have a Space Force and we have a cyber force in the UK. I think we need a Bio Force," he adds at the Financial Times