UK researchers say their finding of a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 underscores the importance of viral genomic surveillance, the Globe and Mail reports.
Earlier this month, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that a new SARS-CoV-2 strain had been uncovered in southern England. As Science has reported there are concerns that this strain may be spreading more quickly than others, but that more analysis is needed. As the Globe and Mail notes, this announcement and a similar one from South Africa has led other nations to close their borders to UK and South African travelers.
The Globe and Mail adds that researchers have long said that new viral variants could arise, and adds that the UK and South Africa were better poised to find them because of the sequencing programs they have in place. "If you are going to find something anywhere, you are going to find it probably here first," Sharon Peacock, the director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, tells it. "And if [a variant] occurs in places that don't have any sequencing, you're not going to find it at all."