~ Premier Medical Laboratory Services is conducting one of the largest-scale Next Generation Sequencing initiatives in the nation for variant tracking ~
Greenville, SC June, 17 2021 – US Senator Lindsey Graham recently viewed one of the largest variant surveillance initiatives in the nation currently underway at Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS). At the PMLS facility, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) enables the collection of data needed to study the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccinations and the detection of new mutations of the SARS CoV-2 virus; like that of the Delta variant which has rapidly spread through India and the UK and now is present in the US. With the capability to monitor 84,000 COVID samples per week, the laboratory has the technology to allow the CDC and state health departments to detect this variant’s spread in the US along with any other novel variants of SARS CoV-2.
“This lab, right here in South Carolina, is testing variants for the entire country, and they are one of the first labs to invest heavily in variant testing to make sure that if there is a second comeback of the virus, we will get ahead of it.” Senator Graham stated alongside Kevin Murdock, CEO and Michael Conroy, VP of Compliance of PMLS. Senator Graham went on to speak about the new and emerging variants including the Delta strain, saying that, “Viruses try to survive. They will replicate. They will try to penetrate the vaccines. This is a war between science and the virus, and the virus is very clever.”
According to Dr. Fauci, the Delta variant may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization and is more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain – Approximately 40% more contagious, but scientists are still trying to pin down the exact number, with estimates ranging from 30% to 100%, as reported by UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock.
Recent NIH studies have shown that while two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were 88% effective against the Delta variant, two doses of the AstraZeneca shot were only 60% effective against the strain. With just under half of the American population having not been vaccinated, as of June 3, Next Generation Sequencing is vital in continued efforts to contain the virus and to keep hospitalization rates low.
Senator Graham expressed that that PMLS has both provided tremendous capability to the public sector for the nation’s COVID response and that it allowed the population to get on with their lives, as the more testing that is conducted, the more is understood about the nature of the illness. Along these same lines, to help the US continue in its progress made against the COVID-19 virus, Premier Medical Laboratory Services plans to provide the data on the new variants that is now needed with their expansive Next Generation Sequencing initiative.