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Networks to Boost Surveillance

Researchers are working to boost the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance, according to Scientific American.

It notes that regions like India, Africa, and South America are currently COVID-19 hotspots, where viral variants may be spreading. But the ability to sequence viral samples to track their spread is often limited, particularly in rural areas. To address this gap, Scientific American writes that researchers are forming groups and networks to link together sequencing centers and deploy sequencing tools.

For instance, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has brought together more than two dozen labs in India with the goal of sequencing 5 percent of all positive COVID-19 cases in the country, while the Pan American Health Organization is building a COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Regional Network in Latin America, it says. At the same time, it notes, the INDIA COVID SOS group is pushing the adoption of Oxford Nanopore Technologies' MinION sequencing tool and researchers from the Technical University of Denmark are working with officials in Rwanda to adopt a Sanger sequencing-based surveillance approach.

Scientific American adds that the hope is to build lasting pathogen surveillance programs. "COVID is the catalyst," Jairo Mendez-Rico from PAHO tells it "But we also need to survey for other pathogens that for sure will come in the future."