Need to See What COVID Pressure You Have? The Authorities Says No

Sept. 14, 2021 — Daily, greater than 140,000 folks in the USA are identified with COVID-19. However irrespective of how curious they’re about which variant they’re preventing, none of them will discover out.

The nation is dotted with labs that sequence the genomes of COVID-19 instances, and the CDC tracks these outcomes. However federal guidelines say these outcomes aren’t allowed to make their manner again to sufferers or docs.

In accordance with public well being and infectious illness specialists, that is unlikely to vary anytime quickly.

“I do know folks wish to know — I’ve had plenty of associates or household who’ve requested me how they’ll discover out,” says Aubree Gordon, PhD, an epidemiology specialist on the College of Michigan College of Public Well being. “I feel it is an attention-grabbing factor to search out out, for positive. And it might definitely be good to know. However as a result of it most likely isn’t vital, there may be little motivation to vary the principles.”

As a result of the exams which can be used haven’t been authorized as diagnostic instruments underneath the Scientific Laboratory Enchancment Amendments program, which is overseen by the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Providers, they’ll solely be used for analysis functions.

In actual fact, the scientists doing the sequencing hardly ever have any affected person info, Gordon says. For instance, the Lauring Lab at College of Michigan — run by Adam Lauring, MD — focuses on viral evolution and at present exams for variants. However this isn’t accomplished for the sake of the affected person or the docs treating the affected person.

“The samples are available … they usually’ve been de-identified,” Gordon says. “That is only for analysis functions. Not a lot affected person info is shared with the researchers.”

However as of now, other than sheer curiosity, there may be not a cause to vary this, says Timothy Brewer, MD, a professor of drugs and epidemiology on the UCLA Fielding College of Public Well being and of Medication.

Though there are rising variants — together with the brand new Mu variant, also referred to as B.1.621 and just lately categorized as a “variant of interest” — the Delta variant accounts for about 99% of U.S. instances.

As well as, Brewer says, therapies are the identical for all COVID-19 sufferers, whatever the variant.

“There must be some scientific significance for there to be a very good cause to present this info,” he says. “That might imply we might be doing one thing completely different treatment-wise relying on the variant. As of now, that’s not the case.”

There’s a loophole that enables labs to launch variant info: They’ll develop their very own exams. However they then should undergo a prolonged validation course of that proves their exams are as efficient because the gold normal, says Mark Pandori, PhD, director of the Nevada State Public Well being Laboratory.

However even with validation, it’s too time-consuming and expensive to sequence massive numbers of instances, he says.

“The rationale we’re not doing it routinely is there is no solution to do the genomic evaluation on all of the positives,” Pandori says. “It’s about $110 {dollars} to do a sequence. It isn’t like an ordinary PCR take a look at.”

There’s a hypothetical state of affairs which will warrant the discharge of those outcomes, Brewer says: if a variant emerges that evades vaccines.

“That might be an actual public well being situation,” he says. “You wish to make sure that there aren’t variants rising someplace which can be escaping immunity.”

WebMD Well being Information


World Well being Group.

Aubree Gordon, PhD, epidemiology specialist, College of Michigan College of Public Well being.

Timothy Brewer, MD, professor of drugs and epidemiology, UCLA Fielding College of Public Well being and of Medication.

Mark Pandori, PhD, director, Nevada State Public Well being Laboratory.

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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