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Local University Starts Genome Tracking To Trace Covid-19 Variants In CA

A UC Davis lab looking into Covid-19 transmission has started tracking the spread in variants, including the newest strain Omicron, even without it being found in the United State as of yet. UC Davis' Genome Center takes positive Covid tests from the organizations mass testing program and breaks it down to see what strains are in the area. So far, it has examined samples from local counties like Yolo, Amador, and Nevada. This is part of a statewide effort to track these such variants present in our community.

KCRA 3 spoke to one of the project scientists, David Coil:

"To me, it's only a matter of time before we see omicron in California. There's some evidence that it carries mutations that we know from other variants increase transmission and might have some immune evasion, but I think no one really knows yet for this virus with all these mutations together, how much of a concern it is."

Demand is low for genome sequencing for Covid-19 cases due to the influx of delta variant cases, but with a new strain on the horizon, it is becoming for important to track mutations to the genome sequence. Coil told KCRA that the facility can test up to 12,000 samples a day.

"We do a process called genotyping, and in genotyping, we're looking for particular mutations of interest. So, we know that these mutations define alpha or these mutations define delta, and we can very quickly and cheaply look for those mutations. [Omicron] may turn out to be much ado about nothing, or it may turn out to be the new thing that becomes a huge problem. I think it’s just too early to tell. We need more clinical data."

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