How fast is the coronavirus mutating? Why is the U.K. variant, or B.1.1.7, more transmissible than original strains of the virus? Is viral surveillance the weak spot in the U.S.'s fight against the pandemic?
Will Lee is the VP of Science for Helix, a population genetics company that has had a unique national footprint and ability to retool into a large scale COVID testing lab. Last month the company announced a collaboration with the sequencing and diagnostics company, Illumina, as well as with the CDC to track the so-called U.K. variant of the coronavirus. Their data is being used by the CDC and others to track how far this variant has penetrated the U.S.
Will informs us today about the collaboration and efforts going forward at Helix to track the South African strain, other variants and the importance of surveillance strategies in the larger U.S. efforts to beat the pandemic.