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Monitoring the Virus

With its viral genomic surveillance, the UK was able to spot a new SARS-CoV-2 variant and raise an alert, the Wall Street Journal reports. It adds, though, that that effort almost didn't happen.

The UK has analyzed about 10 percent of positive SARS-CoV-2 tests there and has contributed about 44 percent of the SARS-CoV-2 viral sequences in the GISAID database, the Journal adds. It notes that, by comparison, the US has analyzed about 0.3 percent of positive SARS-CoV-2 cases.

The Journal reports, though, that when the University of Cambridge's Sharon Peacock floated the idea of monitoring viral mutations, some other scientists thought it would be unnecessary as coronaviruses are slow to mutate. But COVID-19 Genomics UK, it adds, was set up with £20 million (US $27 million) in funding, largely to spot super-spreader events. But the approach was also able to notice new variants, such as the one identified in southern England, it adds.

The UK now plans to share its approach with other countries, the Journal reports.