AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT
Press release content from Business Wire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.
PRESS RELEASE: Paid content from Business Wire
Press release content from Business Wire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

US COVID-19 Surveillance Needs an Urgent Boost, Says AHF

July 19, 2021 GMT

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul 19, 2021--

Hopes for a steady decline and an eventual end to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States are being dashed by a sudden upsurge in new infections and woefully inadequate epidemiological surveillance. AIDS Healthcare Foundation calls on the United States government to accelerate genomic sequencing of positive COVID-19 tests around the country and to develop a unified comprehensive plan for a robust virus monitoring network.

New cases are up 129.3% from their lowest point on June 20, 2021, according to CDC’s data on a seven-day moving average of recorded cases. The most common strain of the virus is the highly infectious Delta variant, but the US is falling behind other developed countries in tracking and identifying new strains. According to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), since the beginning of 2020 the US has sequenced and shared genomic data for only 1.89% of all reported COVID-19 cases, whereas the UK and Australia have sequenced 10.5% and 58.5% of cases respectively.

ADVERTISEMENT

“SARS-CoV-2 is highly prone to genetic variation as it replicates and spreads across different populations. These mutations give rise to some variants that are more resistant to existing vaccines. Because of this, a robust system of genomic sequencing is absolutely essential for us to keep up with the changing virus and adapt our treatments, prevention, and diagnostic strategies to it,” said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, Chief Executive of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami, who is a medical doctor with a background in infectious diseases.

ADVERTISEMENT

A recent Business Insider story titled “The US doesn’t really know how widespread the Delta variant is because its virus sequencing is lagging far behind many other rich nations,” identified several reasons for the delays, mainly related to a patchwork of approaches to genomic sequencing across the country, including logistical challenges and regulatory constraints related to patient privacy.

“The US government has appropriated billions of dollars for the pandemic response and President Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate access to diagnostics and technologies like genomic sequencing, however the rollout has been disappointingly slow as the GISAID data suggests,” added Dr. Saavedra. “With robust scientific and high-tech sectors, the United States should be leading the world in this regard and helping other countries to catch up with their own genomic sequencing efforts. Above all, what we urgently need now is an actionable plan on genomic sequencing in the United States, otherwise we risk incubating even more infectious variants, which could derail the recovery.”

AHF recently launched a grant program to support the scale-up of genomic sequencing efforts across the world, with programs already running, or in varying stages of development in the United States, Uganda, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad, India, Ukraine, Philippines, and Thailand. The US government could similarly support genomic sequencing efforts abroad, especially in developing countries, through development facilities such as for example the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. This approach would be mutually beneficial to the US and other nations, because no country is safe until all countries are safe and genomic sequencing is crucial to health solidarity and security of the world.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210719005833/en/

CONTACT: US MEDIA CONTACT:

Ged Kenslea,Senior Director, Communications, AHF

+1.323.308.1833 work +1.323.791.5526 mobile

gedk@aidshealth.orgDenys Nazarov, Director of Global Policy &

Communications, AHF

+1 323.308.1829

denys.nazarov@ahf.org

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CALIFORNIA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: INFECTIOUS DISEASES GENETICS PUBLIC POLICY/GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE REFORM WHITE HOUSE/FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HEALTH STATE/LOCAL PUBLIC POLICY OTHER POLICY ISSUES

SOURCE: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Copyright Business Wire 2021.

PUB: 07/19/2021 07:18 PM/DISC: 07/19/2021 07:18 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210719005833/en