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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Michigan to get nearly $6.4M in federal money to expand COVID-19 variant sequencing

Virus Outbreak Variant
Posted at 11:23 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 11:23:15-04

(WSYM) — The State of Michigan is getting an additional $6.3 million from the federal government to help fight COVID-19 variants.

President Joe Biden announced Friday $1.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help the CDC and states monitor and track COVID-19 variants threatening states.

Michigan currently has the second-most cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the country, according to the CDC, with more than 2,200 cases.

According to the White House, the original COVID-19 comprises of only about half of all cases in America. Of the funding, $1 billion will help expand genomic sequencing, which will identify and monitor the new strains of COVID-19.

$400 million will support innovation initiatives and launch Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology and $300 million will build and support a National Bioinformatics Infrastructure, according to the White House.

Initially, $240 million will be sent to states to help expand genomic sequencing, and that's where the $6.39 million for Michigan will come from.

According to the MDHHS, the variant can only be found through genome sequencing. After a person tests positive for COVID-19, the positive sample is then tested for the variant.

While all testing sites in Michigan can test for the virus, not all can test for the variant, and only some labs are capable of sequencing.

The state sequences all positive samples that the MDHHS lab tests that meet the criteria, so some cases don't have enough to be successful for a sequence.

It can sequence a few hundred samples per week, despite tens of thousands of tests per day.