Biden administration investing $1.7B into tracking, combating COVID-19 variants

The Biden administration on Friday unveiled its plans to invest $1.7 billion into tracking and combating COVID-19 variants as new strains make up about half of all infections across the nation.

The administration announced its planned distribution of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan directed at assisting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local governments in detecting and monitoring COVID-19 variants.

The plan allocates $1 billion to bolstering genomic sequencing through providing money to laboratories for collecting COVID-19 samples, sequencing the DNA and releasing the data.

A total of $400 million will go toward innovation initiatives, including founding six Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology, and another $300 million is set for a data system to track sequencing information.

Key quote: “Our ability to spot variants as they emerge and spread is vital, particularly as we aim to get ahead of dangerous variances before they emerge, as they are in the Midwest right now,” Andy Slavitt, senior White House pandemic adviser, said.