Texas DSHS starts network to study COVID-19 variants


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AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced Thursday that it will be partnering with universities and laboratories across the state to study COVID-19 samples, hoping to get a better picture of what variants are circulating and emerging across the state.

“It is important that we know which SARS-CoV-2 variants are here in Texas, no matter where in Texas they are appearing,” Jennifer Shuford, MD, the state’s chief epidemiologist and the co-chair of the network’s steering committee, said in the release. “By establishing a network of sequencing labs and analytical teams, we can use the skill and scientific know-how in our state to understand how COVID-19 is changing in Texas, how it might affect our communities, and how we can best keep Texans healthy and safe.”

Officials stated that with this network, the amount of sequencing is expected to increase by at least 25% throughout the state. According to the release, the Texas DSHS contracted with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Public Health to coordinate with academic centers and commercial laboratories from around the state for the project.

This project will be supported by the state’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases grant through May 2023, the release stated.

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