AdventHealth Scientists Testing Patient Samples for COVID-19 Variants
The health system's genomics director, Dr. Wesley Walker, says saliva samples from patients are being collected and sequenced for known variants.
Geneticists at AdventHealth in Central Florida are working with California-based genomics company Helix to test patients for COVID-19 variants.
So far, some 1,000 patients who had already signed up for a standard PCR COVID-19 test with the hospital system have been tested.
AdventHealth’s genomics director Dr. Wesley Walker says saliva samples from patients are being collected and sequenced for known variants, such as the U.K. variant.
He says knowing the prevalence of these variants will help state and local officials plan for the next phase of the COVID public health response.
“If you’ve got something that’s spreading potentially faster. You’re going to be able to predict that there will probably be, there may be more infections and so you can plan for that. So I think there’s a planning function,” Walker says.
Although AdventHealth is not ready to release the data yet, Walker expects scientists will also find local Florida variants as the virus continues to mutate.
“It will be looking for different variants local as well as again the U.K., Brazil and others," Walker says. "Again, we don’t have the results back, but that’s exactly what we’re going to be looking at.”
Walker says there are currently some 330 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at AdventHealth’s Central Florida hospitals.
He says this is a downtrend trend in cases, but that the rate at which cases have been decreasing has slowed.
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