Request for Iowa Laboratories to Submit All PCR Positive SARS-CoV-2 Samples for Sequencing
Mutations are changes in the genetic code of a virus and naturally occur over time. The need to monitor the mutations in circulating SARS-CoV-2 is an important public health responsibility. Sequencing SARS-CoV-2 genomes identifies mutations that lead to identified variants. This improves our understanding of the variants that are circulating in Iowa, how quickly variants emerge, and which variants are the most important to monitor for the health of Iowans. Many mutations do not affect the virus’s ability to spread or cause disease because they do not alter the major proteins involved in infection. CDC has identified some of these mutations as “variant viruses of concern” because they spread more easily, cause more severe disease, or may escape the body’s immune response.
Since January 2021, the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) has increased capacity to sequence SARS-CoV-2 and will now accept all PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 samples for sequencing. This will provide IDPH with much more information about the variants that are circulating in Iowa at this time and into the future. While over 1,700 SARS-CoV-2 samples have been sequenced thus far, declining utilization of testing makes it even more important to perform sequencing on all positive samples to determine if new variants are emerging. Submitting samples to sequence depends on the cooperation of all laboratories in Iowa. If your laboratory has remaining samples that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and the Ct value is less than 30, please submit the sample to SHL. If the Ct value is unknown, then submit the sample and SHL will determine the Ct value before performing the sequencing. To order sequencing, please use SHL’s “IDPH Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sequencing Test Request Form” which is found on SHL’s website.
IDPH and SHL wishes to extend our sincere thanks to the clinical laboratory community for their support throughout the pandemic. SHL will send a weekly summary of sequencing results to all clinical labs.