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Pacific Biosciences Sequel II Systems Deployed to Scale-Up Global Viral Surveillance Initiatives Focused on COVID-19

Thursday, February 18, 202

Labcorp Using PacBio’s HiFi Sequencing to Detect SARS-CoV-2 Variants in the U.S.

MENLO PARK, Calif., Feb. 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (Nasdaq: PACB), a leading provider of high-quality, long-read sequencing platforms, today announced that Labcorp (NYSE: LH), a leading global life sciences company, has increased its commitment to highly accurate HiFi sequencing with the addition of new PacBio® Sequel® II Systems. The new systems will expand Labcorp’s capacity to generate thousands of more complete coronavirus genomes from patient samples each week. These data are being used by the United States (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track the spread of existing SARS-CoV-2 variants and detect the emergence of new variants circulating in different geographic regions. Most recently, Labcorp and the CDC utilized PacBio HiFi sequencing data to identify the first known cases of infection from the B.1.351 variant in both South Carolina1 and Virginia2.

“The emergence of more infectious mutations in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and elsewhere has reinforced the urgent need for expansive and robust viral surveillance strategies. Governments and public health organizations around the world are moving quickly to identify and track the different COVID strains in their communities using complete viral genome sequencing. PacBio is pleased to be collaborating with Labcorp to help advance these critical public health efforts,” said Christian Henry, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Biosciences. “We are proud of our contributions to the development of a production-scale assay that Labcorp and the CDC are now using to understand the rapidly spreading new coronavirus variants. By making this protocol publicly available, we hope to further enable laboratories to bring the benefits of HiFi sequencing to bear in the fight against this pandemic and to bolster longer-term viral surveillance strategies here in the U.S. and abroad.”

PacBio’s highly accurate HiFi sequencing offers distinct advantages that result in greater accuracy and completeness for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance, including fewer amplicon drop-outs, simpler amplicon balancing and the ability to call all types of viral mutations robustly even at low coverage. PacBio has made this high-throughput protocol, co-developed with Labcorp, widely available to commercial laboratories, academic researchers, and public health institutions globally who wish to establish a robust long-read, high-throughput surveillance programs locally.

“Early in the pandemic, we partnered with PacBio to sequence COVID-19 samples and expand our understanding of how the virus is evolving,” said Dr. Marcia Eisenberg, Chief Scientific Officer, Labcorp Diagnostics. “We are pleased to work with the CDC to sequence an increasing number of samples as part of our ongoing, all-in fight against COVID-19.”

The PacBio HiFiViral for SARS-CoV-2 Workflow protocol is publicly available and can be accessed at: www.pacb.com/COVID-19. This scalable protocol, which enables sequencing the complete SARS-CoV-2 viral genome in batch sizes ranging from 96 to 900 samples per SMRT® Cell, allows any laboratory to rapidly and efficiently power viral mutation surveillance using PacBio’s HiFi sequencing.

1. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. South Carolina Public Health Officials Detect Nation’s First Known Cases of the COVID-19 Variant Originally Detected in South Africa. (January 28, 2021). Retrieved from: https://scdhec.gov/index.php/news-releases/south-carolina-public-health-officials-detect-nations-first-known-cases-covid-19.

2. WTVR-TV. First case of South African COVID variant detected in Virginia. (February 5, 2021). Retrieved from: https://www.wtvr.com/news/coronavirus/south-african-covid-variant-detected-virginia.

Author / source: PacBio / https://www.pacb.com/press_releases/pacific-biosciences-sequel-ii-systems-deployed-to-scale-up-global-viral-surveillance-initiatives-focused-on-covid-19/

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