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More Sequences Needed

Despite quickly sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 when it first emerged, Quanta magazine writes that the world is not sequencing enough additional COVID-19 samples.

In December, it notes that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said countries needed to step up their sequencing efforts, and that the European Union called on its members to sequence at least 5 percent of their COVID-19-positive samples and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention likewise set a goal of sequencing 5 percent of positive cases. But, according to Quanta, most countries are falling short. For instance, it notes that the US has sequenced less than 2 percent of its cases, while Brazil and India have sequenced 0.1 percent of their cases.

By falling behind, Quanta says officials might not be able to spot new variants early. "The more large gaps in our knowledge of the variants circulating globally, the more likely we are to miss the evolution of an important variant and find ourselves taking backward steps in the fight to control the pandemic," Justin O'Grady, the former deputy director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium and new senior director of translational applications at Oxford Nanopore, tells it.

Quanta adds that the US, India, and several countries in Africa are working to bolster their sequencing efforts.