CDC wants to double number of COVID-19 samples to find mutations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Center for Disease Control and Preventions is on a mission to find mutations. The CDC hopes to double the number of coronavirus samples in its watch for new variants. The plan is to check those over the next two weeks in the United States.

The CDC is collecting about 3,000 samples a week with hopes to more than double that to 6,500 per week.

Right now, scientists look at the entire genetic map of the virus to try and find mutations that could affect how the virus spreads.

Last week, British scientists found a new variant of the virus was spreading but it didn’t appear more severe. That same variant has been found in at least 37 countries and in states like California, Colorado and Florida.

Just last month the CDC gave $15 million to state health labs to ramp up the sequencing and $8 million to seven university labs in September and December.

Dr. Gregory Armstrong, with the CDC, says more money is expected to go to university labs soon.

Scientists across the world are taking blood from people who have been vaccinated and testing it in the lab to see if the antibodies created by the vaccine protect against the new variant. They’re also taking blood from people who have been infected with the new variant to see how well the vaccine works against it.

Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has submitted 57,000 genetic sequences to a database company. The U.K. has submitted 141,000 but have had fewer infections. Right now, they have 17 mutations.

A spokesperson with the World Health Organization said results are expected this week from labs studying whether the new variant might be a challenge for current vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has reassured Americans that the immune response from the vaccines will likely protect against the new variant.