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Politics, Policy & Law

White House’s latest COVID funding takes aim at variants, supports bioinformatics, centers for genomic epidemiology 

Apr 17, 2021 | 12:42 AM GMT

The Biden administration announced Friday investments to address the threats posed by SARS-CoV-2 variants by expanding genomic sequencing, creating new genomic epidemiology R&D centers, and building and supporting a national bioinformatics infrastructure.

Genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. has increased from 8,000 samples per week in early February to 29,000 per week, according to the White House. The administration will invest an additional $1 billion to “help CDC, states, and other jurisdictions improve their capacity to identify COVID mutations and monitor circulation of variants.” The funding will “support the collection of COVID specimens, the sequencing of COVID viruses, and the sharing of the resultant data,” the White House said.

Friday’s announcement includes a $400 million investment to launch six Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology that “will operate as partnerships between state health departments and academic institutions.”

In addition, the Biden administration will invest $300 million to build and support a National Bioinformatics Infrastructure. The funding, the White House said, will support creation of a “unified system for sharing and analyzing sequence data in a way that protects privacy but allows more informed decisionmaking.”

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