April 13, 2024

BAG doesn't pay to track down mutants quickly

BAG doesn’t pay to track down mutants quickly

Coronaviruses have mutated faster and faster since the start of the year. These mutations, in turn, are spreading around the world. This is also the case in Switzerland. The Indian boom, for example, has been in Switzerland for a month. But it was only discovered a week ago. again “Sunday look“You mentioned that there are two ways to identify mutations.

On the other hand, in university and diagnostic laboratories, where the complete genetic material of the Coronavirus is analyzed. “Whole genome sequencing” has enabled the decoding of more than 6,500 viruses since the program was launched in early March.

“This allows us to identify the new variables of concern,” Tania Stadler (39 years), a biostatistics specialist at ETH Zurich, told the newspaper. “However, this sequence is too slow to efficiently trace contacts.”

A faster method used only in the British variant

The second way to track individual mutations is faster. PCR tests for mutations can detect them within 24 hours. “It is faster and cheaper than examining the entire genetic makeup,” says Didier Tronot (65), a virologist at the University of Lausanne. “Such tests can have a huge impact once you know which mutations to look for.”

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mutation assays are already used regularly in countries such as England and Denmark. This method was already used in Switzerland to define the British variant. But since then, BAG has stopped funding new mutation tests. Accordingly, Switzerland is lagging behind, which is to the dismay of the researchers: They have been pointing out the importance of tests for mutations for months.

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Entire genome sequencing is still ongoing. This has a crucial advantage: the method can help improve vaccines against mutations. “The new variants can be studied in the laboratory,” says Trono. “This way, we can determine how they interacted with the vaccine.”