Butantan completes 30 thousand in the Variant Alert Network and 10 thousand Covid-19 exams in the Mobile Lab
by Butantan Team
Published: October 28, 2021
The Butantan Institute reached two important milestones this week: it completed the genomic sequencing of 30,818 samples of the virus causing Covid-19 carried out within the Alert Network of Variants of SARS-CoV-2; and reached the number of 10 thousand Covid-19 tests carried out at Lab Móvel, a mobile laboratory that has been visiting cities in the interior of São Paulo and is capable of performing up to 600 RT-PCR diagnostic tests per day, in addition to performing the genomic sequencing of the positive samples.
“This shows that Butantan has structured itself and is ready to carry out genomic surveillance. Thanks to the knowledge that the scientists had, this was very fast”, celebrates one of the coordinators of the Alert Network for Variants and the Network of Laboratories for the Diagnosis of Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, scientific researcher from Butantan Maria Carolina Sabbaga.
Since January, the Network of Laboratories for the Diagnosis of Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 – also coordinated by Butantan and which involves laboratories throughout the state in carrying out tests to find out whether or not a person has Covid-19 in the public health network – already performed 4.9 million RT-PCR tests. It is based on the positive samples of this structure that the genomic sequencing of the Variant Alert Network is performed. According to the latest epidemiological bulletin, there are 39 variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the state, with delta still predominating, accounting for 99.5% of samples in the 10th to 16th week.
Apart from the institute, five more laboratories are part of the Variant Alert Network and sequence part of the positive samples collected in the state of São Paulo: the Blood Center of Ribeirão Preto, the Faculty of Animal Science and Food Engineering of the University of São Paulo (FZEA- USP, in Pirassununga), the Luiz de Queiroz School of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP, in Piracicaba), the Júlio de Mesquita Filho State University of São Paulo (UNESP, in Botucatu) and the São José do Rio Preto Medical School (FAMERP ).
Through its Analytical Center for Genomics and Proteomics, Butantan sequences about 50% of the total of all samples in the Network. The responsible team is composed of five people who have the help of three sequencing machines, which work day and night. The other laboratories in the network also have state-of-the-art machines and teams made up of three to five researchers. After the sequencing is carried out, they go to three computer technicians who analyze each data, genome, mutations and viral evolution.
Another Butantan initiative focused on genomic sequencing and diagnostic tests is the Mobile Lab, a traveling laboratory that is currently heading to Marília. The last stop was in Araçatuba, where he performed 1,792 tests and directed 52 positive samples to be analyzed. Before, the container passed through Piracicaba, where it carried out 2,756 tests, with 107 sequenced samples; Baixada Santista, with 4,564 RT-PCR and 463 sequences; and Aparecida, with 1217 tests and 351 positive samples.
“Next year, we’re still going to think about where to take the Mobile Lab, but the idea is for it to keep working. It goes where it’s needed. As it is a container, it is possible to take the Mobile Lab even on a ship”, jokes Maria Carolina.
So far, nearly a thousand samples from the Mobile Lab have been sent for genetic sequencing. This number adds to the mark of 30 thousand sequencing reached by the Alert Network of the SARS-CoV-2 Variants.