Variant Assessment Platform Enables Countries to Identify Coronavirus Changes
The United Kingdom (UK) announced it would offer its world-leading genomics expertise to identify new variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to countries that do not have the resources to do so.
Countries will be offered UK capacity to analyze new strains of the virus through the launch of the New Variant Assessment Platform, which will be led by Public Health England (PHE) working with NHS Test and Trace and academic partners as well as the World Health Organization’s SARS-CoV-2 Global Laboratory Working Group.
The announcement on January 26, 2021, comes as part of a speech the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock will deliver at Chatham House outlining his vision for a stronger, more collaborative, and effective global health system, not just in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but to ensure the international community is better prepared for future threats.
Excerpts from Secretary Hancock include the following: ‘This pandemic has shown that the foundations of so many of the exciting experiences that make life worth living are contingent not just on our health, or the health of our neighbors, but the health of people across the world.
The new variants of coronavirus have demonstrated this once again, so we must work to promote health security right across the world.
Our New Variant Assessment Platform will help us better understand this virus and how it spreads and boost global capacity to understand coronavirus, so we’re all better prepared for whatever lies ahead.
The UK has carried out more than half of all SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences submitted to the global database. This capability helped PHE’s scientists identify the variant in Kent, informing new measures to tackle the virus’s spread.
Countries will be able to apply for assistance by contacting the World Health Organization where an existing channel does not already exist with the UK. This vital work will combat the spread of coronavirus by identifying more COVID-19 variants around the world to keep the global community one step ahead of any mutations,’ concludes Sec. Hancock comments.
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