Research team builds network to track COVID-19 samples, come up with strategies to slow spread

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The COVID-19 Delta variant is now the most dominant strain in the U.S. It is 55 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, and patients infected with the Delta variant are 1.8 times more likely to be hospitalized. But a team of researchers is devising the best strategy to corner COVID and keep its damage from spreading.

Alpha, Gamma, Delta -- these COVID-19 variants have been making headlines all around the world. But in this Florida lab, researchers are using the power of collaboration to strengthen the response against COVID-19 variants within the U.S.

“It really takes a number of different collaborators from public health agencies at a local, state and federal level, along with academics at public and private institutions, and private industry partners to really mount a robust public health response to a pandemic,” Taj Azarian, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at UCF, told Ivanhoe.

That’s why these researchers are building a network where they can collect samples from places that normally wouldn’t submit COVID data, such as schools, urgent care centers and private hospitals to better track how a variant emerges.

Azarian shared, “So, it really is focusing on genomic surveillance of the virus. Then interrogate it to understand how the virus is spreading, how it’s changing over time.”

And detect changes early to strategize a better response, not only for the next variant but also the next pandemic.

The research team at UCF will also track reinfection and vaccine breakthrough cases. These are cases where someone who was fully vaccinated contracted COVID.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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