Over 100 strains of SARS-CoV-2 have been sequenced in the Covid-19 laboratory of the Policlinico di Bari. It is a complex activity, thanks to advanced analysis technologies and software for a year now, which involves highly qualified researchers and bioinformaticians, contributing to the national “flash surveys”.
The surveys commissioned by the Ministry of Health and coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità aimed at monitoring the spread of the variants of the virus throughout the national territory.
To strengthen research and prevention activities and to promptly identify epidemic outbreaks by stemming infections and limiting the spread of the virus, the strategic management of the Bari Polyclinic has decided to invest in the sequencing of variants through extraordinary funding of about 150 thousand Euro for the purchase of specific kits to equip the laboratory.
As part of the surveillance activities for SARS-CoV-2, it is now essential to monitor the genomic sequences to have a general picture of the circulation of the virus, the various features, and any variants.
The Covid19 laboratory of the Polyclinic, led by Professor Maria Chironna, is engaged in sequencing the virus using Whole-genome sequencing.
This technique allows the entire genome of the virus to be sequenced.
From the reporting of the first cases of the English variant and the South African variant, the Ministry of Health has recommended the strengthening of surveillance for the new variants and has indicated the criteria for proceeding with sequencing.
In fact, thanks to this activity, in December 2020, the first English variant identified in Puglia was sequenced, and in recent days two Brazilian variants of SARS-CoV-2 were identified. This discovery is of great importance in Public Health because it provides fundamental data for contact tracing activities for the containment of the epidemic.
The new Covid-19 Laboratory of the Policlinico di Bari was born in August 2020 in a completely renovated structure to meet the unique advanced diagnostic needs of the pandemic emergency. The facility is equipped with very high technology tools that allow for processing many swabs, ensuring maximum efficiency and accuracy from the pre-analytical phase to the final result.