James Crawford, Jonathan Slotkin, and Meg Wyatt: More than a year into the pandemic, the United States is at yet another critical inflection point. The number of Covid-19 cases remains high and is on the rise in more than half of states.
And though vaccination rates are climbing here, topping 4 million shots on April 3 alone, we are in a race between vaccinations and the proliferation of viral variants, which continue to spread and may be even more dangerous than the coronavirus that triggered the pandemic. The country must drastically improve genomic surveillance of Covid-19 cases, which is not happening often enough.
Viruses mutate as they multiply and spread. Genomic sequencing is an advanced test that determines the precise genetic information a virus carries. It can highlight variant strains that may spread faster, evade vaccines, or make people sicker by being less responsive to existing treatments.