Illumina and Helix track novel strains of SARS-CoV-2

Jan. 7, 2021

Illumina and Helix are collaborating to track the emergence and prevalence of novel strains of SARS-CoV-2 with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a press release.

The companies are using Illumina’s sequencing technology and Helix’s national COVID-19 testing footprint to expand the existing surveillance efforts to detect and characterize emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

The collaboration has identified 51 of the first 54 cases of B.1.1.7, the highly transmissible variant first found in the United Kingdom and reported in the United States. Over the past several weeks, Helix has analyzed recent positive samples and identified those with ‘S gene dropout’ on their diagnostic PCR assay, indicating the potential presence of the emerging B1.1.7 variant in different regions in the United States. Illumina then sequenced a subset of these ‘S gene dropout’ samples using Illumina’s COVIDSeq Test, which identified the B.1.1.7 variant in 4 samples from California and Florida.

Helix and Illumina are expanding the scope of their collaboration to examine a higher volume of samples on an ongoing basis for both the presence of B.1.1.7 and new strains. The companies said this will empower public and private entities to react quickly to any potential changes in pathogenicity of the virus or effectiveness of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

Visit Illumina for more news