Biden administration to invest $ 1.7 billion in tracking Covid variants

Image: Rebecca Shabad

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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration said on Friday it was giving states $ 1.7 billion to track variants of Covid-19.

The money, from the Covid relief program enacted last month, will help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and governors monitor emerging variants by boosting the country’s ability to sequence the virus genome and detect mutations, a declared the White House.

“New and potentially dangerous strains” of the coronavirus now account for about half of U.S. cases, the White House said.

Laboratories nationwide were only sequencing around 8,000 strains of Covid-19 per week in early February, but a previous investment of $ 200 million increased capacity, allowing for the processing of around 29,000 samples per week, the report said. White House. The investment announced on Friday will help continue this effort.

About $ 1 billion of this money will be used to expand genomic sequencing to find Covid-19 mutations; $ 400 million will help launch six new centers for the study of genomic epidemiology; and $ 300 million will help build a national system for sharing and analyzing sequencing data.

Health officials said last week that a highly transmissible variant first detected in the UK has become the most dominant strain in the US.

Health officials have said the key to beating the circulation and the emergence of variants is to vaccinate as many people as possible against Covid-19. Nearly 38% of the U.S. population have received at least one dose of a vaccine, the CDC said, and nearly a third have been fully immunized, according to the NBC News vaccine tracker.

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