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Biden Administration Commits $1.7B to SARS-CoV-2 Variant Sequencing, Surveillance

NEW YORK — The White House on Friday announced that the Biden administration has committed $1.7 billion to support the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including viral genome sequencing, genomic epidemiology centers, and new bioinformatics infrastructure.

According to the White House, $1 billion will go toward helping the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and jurisdictional health departments conduct, expand, and improve activities around SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing and mutation identification such as specimen collection and data sharing. An initial tranche of $240 million will be provided to states beginning in early May, with additional funding coming over the next several years. Among the states, double-digit million awards are scheduled to go to California ($23.5 million), Texas ($17.7 million), Florida ($12.7 million), and New York ($12.5 million).

Another $400 million will be used to establish six Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology that will work with state health departments and academic institutes to develop new genomic epidemiology technologies such as surveillance tools to track pathogens and bioinformatic workflows.

A total of $300 million will be used to build a national bioinformatics infrastructure that will enable the sharing and analysis of sequence data throughout the US while maintaining privacy. The funding will also be used to increase sequencing in clinical settings and expand the CDC's bioinformatics fellowship program.

The money is being provided through the American Rescue Plan and will be allocated through the CDC. The effort is separate from an initiative announced in February, when the Biden administration committed $1.6 billion to support COVID-19 testing and SARS-CoV-2 sequencing.

The White House said that it has already provided nearly $200 million to SARS-CoV-2 sequencing efforts, which has increased the number of samples sequenced per week to 29,000 from 8,000 in early February.