GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Biden administration is investing billions of dollars to monitor new and emerging COVID-19 variants, which doctors say could create another pandemic wave. Premier Medical Lab Services in Greenville will soon be one of the biggest labs in the country conducting research on new COVID-19 variants.
“This is the next wave of fighting this pandemic,” said Michael Conroy, Vice President of Compliance at Premier.
Through the lab’s variant surveillance, it allows researchers to look at positive COVID-19 samples and identify the variant that’s causing the infection.
“We can do a couple of things with that,” Conroy said. “Number one we can trace the different variants as they pop up, and look at hot spots geographically. That allows us to determine if there are any new mutations… We can see how one variant is traveling coming into the country and moving throughout the country. We can see based on variants the significance of symptoms.”
Right now the current known variants are the Indian variant, the U.K. variant, Brazil, South African, California, and New York.
“The CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, all need this data for various reasons,” Conroy said. “Which is why we’ve jumped on board and made the investment to get the equipment in to be able to do a higher throughput.”
That equipment includes two machines the lab uses to monitor thousands of positive COVID-19 samples per day to look for new variants of the virus.
“So we’ll be able to do about 3000 samples per shift right now, so 6000 a day,” Conroy said. “In may we expect to double that so we’ll be doing 12,000 a day here in the next couple of weeks.”
Conroy said all pharmaceutical research is going to be pushed toward making vaccines that target the mutations.
“As it mutates those vaccines may not be as potent anymore, so being able to watch the types of variations that we have, the different mutations will allow those pharmaceutical companies to make sure they’ll be getting the maximum efficiency out of the vaccines,” Conroy said.
Which as he puts it, is staying ahead of the curve in fighting the pandemic.
To sign up to get tested for the coronavirus through Premier, click here.
If you’d like to donate your positive COVID-19 sample for variant research, click here.