US Rushes To Catch Up In The Race To Detect Mutant Viruses

Clinical lab scientist Selam Bihon processes upper respiratory samples from patients suspected of having COVID-19 at the Stanford Clinical Virology Laboratory on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Palo Alto, Calif. Viruses mutate constantly. To stay ahead of the threat, scientists analyze samples for genetic changes, watching closely for ones that might make the virus more infectious or more deadly. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

(AP) — Despite its world-class medical system and its vaunted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. fell behind in the race to detect dangerous coronavirus mutations. And it’s only now beginning to catch up. The problem has not been a shortage of technology or expertise.

Rather, scientists say, it’s an absence of national leadership and coordination, plus a lack of funding and supplies for overburdened laboratories trying to juggle diagnostic testing with the hunt for mutations.


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