UK virus hunting labs try to strengthen global variant network
1of14Research assistant Emily checks a flow cell before putting it into the sequencer at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, England, Friday, on Jan. 7, 2022. By sequencing as many positive cases as possible, researchers hope to identify variants of concern as quickly as possible, then track their spread to provide early warnings…
LONDON (AP) — The air conditioners hum constantly in the lab at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, countering the heat thrown off by rows of high-tech sequencing machines that work seven days a week analyzing the genetic material of COVID-19 cases from throughout the U.K.
The laboratory is one example of how British scientists have industrialized the process of genomic sequencing during the pandemic, cutting the time and cost needed to generate a unique genetic fingerprint for each coronavirus case analyzed. That made the U.K. a world leader in COVID-19 sequencing, helping public health authorities track the spread of new variants, develop vaccines and decide when to impose lockdowns.