Scientists warn that increased SARS-CoV-2 sequencing is needed now in the US to track and identify viral variants, the Washington Post reports.
New concerning viral variants have been identified in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, and the UK strain has particularly raised worries about increased transmissibility. Each of these strains has since been found in small numbers in the US, the Post notes.
But since viral sequencing in the US has been limited, the Post adds that scientists can't easily track the prevalence of these variants or keep an eye out for ones that may have cropped up stateside. Scientists tell it that a concerted federal effort is needed to coordinate sequencing efforts.
According to the Post, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that viral surveillance efforts have already increased and will continue to do so. Additionally, it notes that Biden Administration officials say their spending plan includes funding for sequencing.
"Genomic surveillance is probably the number-one thing, besides COVID-19 testing itself, that we can do to track the virus," Southern Illinois University's Keith Gagnon adds at the Post. "Without it, we are flying blind."