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Still Some SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing Holes

While viral genomic surveillance has improved in the US, the Wall Street Journal writes there are still holes.

It notes that in early 2021, the US published about 3,000 viral genomes per week, but with increased funding and coordination that increased to 80,000 viral genomes for a week in November. However, this sequencing capability is uneven across the states, the Journal says, adding that Vermont has sequenced and shared data on about 30 percent of its COVID-19 cases, while Oklahoma has done so for just 1 percent.

Still, officials tell it that the US is sequencing between 5 percent and 10 percent of COVID-19 cases overall and is well positioned to spot COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. PCR and antigen tests, it says, can detect Omicron-driven cases, and S-gene dropout among some PCR results can point to the Omicron variant.

"There are parts of the country doing a really remarkable amount of sequencing and there are other areas that are not, and those tend to be the same areas that just aren't doing as much testing," Scott Becker, chief executive officer of Association of Public Health Laboratories, says at the Journal.

The Scan

Omicron's Sewage Path

The New York Times writes that testing sewage is helping public health officials track Omicron.

IBM Sells Part of Watson Health

The Wall Street Journal reports IBM is selling part of its Watson Health business to an investment firm.

Identifying the Right Whales

The Boston Globe writes that genetic testing has helped identify North American right whales and find that weaning can take place earlier than thought.

Science Papers on Approach to Quickly Sort Single Cells, Alternative Splicing in Cancer

In Science this week: high-speed sorting of single cells using fluorescence imaging, and more.