Laboratories at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and at Cornell University in Ithaca are among five the state has chosen to “bolster” efforts in identifying COVID-19 variants.
The New York State Department of Health is partnering with the labs to expand the genetic sequencing of specimens positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.
Labs at the University at Buffalo, University of Rochester Medical Center, and at New York Medical College in Valhalla in Westchester County are also involved in this effort.
The selected laboratories have sequencing expertise and experience, as well as capacity and access to SARS-CoV-2 positive specimens from large multi-county areas in New York State, outside of New York City.
The New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center received approval to use $20 million in federal funding to establish a sequencing partnership with external laboratories. It’s part of a supplement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s epidemiology and laboratory capacity for prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases enhancing-detection expansion, Cuomo’s office said
“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of whole genome sequencing in identifying variants of concern that are continuously monitored by the Wadsworth Center as an integral part of our public-health response,” Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, said. “We are pleased to announce this new partnership that will expand this surveillance ability statewide and assist in ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-response efforts. Again, we encourage all eligible New Yorkers to get vaccinated, as that is the best way to avoid serious illness.”