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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."

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.