Genomic sequencing performed by The Jackson Laboratory
JAX’s COVID-19 testing laboratory in Connecticut, which has already processed more than 1.5 million samples using its PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 virus, is working to greatly expand genomic surveillance for Connecticut residents.
Learn more about SARS-CoV-2 variants
Learn more about SARS-CoV-2 variants in that state of Connecticut
The Jackson Laboratory response to COVID-19
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has an RNA genome that is about 30,000 nucleotides long and encodes eleven genes. Genomic surveillance involves sequencing the complete genome from many isolates to understand how strains circulating in the community differ from one another.
SARS-CoV-2, like all viruses, evolves over time through the accumulation of mutations – changes in the genome sequence. Some mutations change the sequence of the encoded proteins, resulting in viruses that are more contagious, are resistant to antibody therapy, or reduce vaccine-induced protection. “Strain”, “variant” and “lineage” are often used interchangeably to indicate a group of viruses that share a set of mutations.
Identifying variants and new viral strains is a critical first step in understanding how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving in response to existing therapies, vaccines and tests. This information helps inform public health officials and aids in the development of public health responses to limit the spread of the virus as quickly as possible.
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