The Biden administration announced that it will be investing $1.7 billion to create a national network to track the rising number of coronavirus variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified five variants of concern and three variants of interest. The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, is the most concerning and has become the dominant strain in the United States.
"The emergence of variants underscores the critical need for rapid and ongoing genomic surveillance," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said.
To help scientists better understand the variants, the CDC and state health departments will receive $1 billion to improve their ability to identify new variants and track their prevalence in local communities. The government will also spend $400 million to create partnerships with six universities to "fuel cutting-edge research into genomic epidemiology."
The final $300 million will go towards building "a unified system for sharing and analyzing sequence data," allowing scientists and researchers to better share what they learn about the coronavirus.
"At this critical juncture in the pandemic, these new resources will help ensure states and the CDC have the support they need to fight back against dangerous variants and slow the spread of the virus," White House coronavirus testing coordinator Carole Johnson said in a statement.
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