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Hurdles to Genomic Surveillance

Systemic issues make viral genomic sequencing in the US challenging, Nature News reports.

The identification of SARS-CoV-2 variants by the UK and South Africa, and now elsewhere, underscored the need for viral genomic surveillance, as the Globe and Mail reported in late December. But the US has had no national SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing program, though both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biden Administration have sought to boost sequencing efforts, including with funding as part of the pandemic relief bill.

Nature News reports that even with that increase in funding, viral genomic surveillance in the US will be tricky due in part due to its patchwork of healthcare systems. It adds that some labs are running below capacity as many diagnostic labs discard samples following testing, rather than store them for additional sequencing analysis. Other labs that do receive samples receive them with limited patient data, making it harder to tell if any variants spotted are more contagious or can evade natural- or vaccine-induced immunity, it adds.

Duncan MacCannell from the CDC's Office of Advanced Molecular Detection tells Nature News that he is "convinced that we can do this, and that we can be nimble." He adds, though, that "it is challenging in a pandemic.

The Scan

Nucleotide Base Detected on Near-Earth Asteroid

Among other intriguing compounds, researchers find the nucleotide uracil, a component of RNA sequences, in samples collected from the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, as they report in Nature Communications.

Clinical Trial Participants, Investigators Point to Importance of Clinical Trial Results Reporting in Canadian Study

Public reporting on clinical trial results is crucial, according to qualitative interviews with clinical trial participants, investigators, and organizers from three provinces appearing in BMJ Open.

Old Order Amish Analysis Highlights Autozygosity, Potential Ties to Blood Measures

Researchers in BMC Genomics see larger and more frequent runs-of-homozygosity in Old Order Amish participants, though only regional autozygosity coincided with two blood-based measures.

Suicidal Ideation-Linked Loci Identified Using Million Veteran Program Data

Researchers in PLOS Genetics identify risk variants within and across ancestry groups with a genome-wide association study involving veterans with or without a history of suicidal ideation.