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To Watch the Variants

Scientists told lawmakers that the US needs to do more to track SARS-CoV-2 variants, according to the New York Times.

Last month, the Biden Administration announced that it was committing $1.7 billion to detect and monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants. More than half the funding — $1 billion — is to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local governments to expand genomic viral surveillance.

According to the Times, Columbia University's Salim Abdool Karim told a House panel that such funding is sorely needed, especially as the new variants may emerge as wider vaccination effort place it under pressure. Yale School of Public Health's Nathan Grubaugh added, according to the Times, that the emergence of new variants need to be better monitored. "These global and national genomic surveillance gaps severely limit our ability to detect new and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, and should be considered as a threat to US public health," he said.

The Times notes that the researchers also underscored the need to share such data as well as to have associated medical information.