Genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples is on the rise in response to the rapid spread of variants around the world.
We know how viruses change and we have the genomics tools to monitor the origin, transmission, and evolution of the virus which causes COVID-19.
Since it was created in April of last year, the Canadian COVID Genomics Network
(CanCOGeN) has been leading the effort to sequence the unique genetic signature of the virus. There are thousands of variants around the world and the network is doubling the number of samples it sequences to better track all the variants of concern. At the time of the recording for this podcast, Alberta was sequencing 750 viral genomes a week which was 27% of the national total.
As a network of federal, provincial and regional public health authorities along with academia, industry, hospitals, research institutes and large-scale sequencing centres, CanCOGeN is up to the task. Not only has it been able to monitor existing variants, but the high quality of the sequencing will ensure researchers and public health officials know when the inevitable made-in-Canada variant appears.
Catalina Lopez-Correa says the 10 per cent sequencing goal will put us on par with the United Kingdom and ahead of the U.S. which is lagging behind in generating viral genetic sequencing data.
Dr. Lopez-Correa is the Executive Director of CanCOGeN and she talked with freelance broadcaster Don Hill about the increased testing and how the provinces contribute to the national strategy.