Switzerland launches platform to track COVID-19 variants

The new platform will enable the rapid exchange of Swiss sequences with international partners, thus helping to speed up the search for vaccines and treatments. © Keystone/Christian Butler

This content was published on Oct 14, 2021 – 15:50

Keystone-SDA / sb

The Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) has launched a central platform for collecting genetic sequences of the novel coronavirus in Switzerland to ensure better tracking of variants and to boost international research efforts.

The Swiss Pathogen Monitoring Platform (SPSP) of the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) will provide an “automated overview of the distribution and emergence of variants across the country,” the SIB explained in a statement on Wednesday.

This will enable the rapid exchange of Swiss sequences with international partners, and thus help speed up the search for vaccines and treatments, the institute said.

The sequences come from almost all Swiss cantons. This is excellent news, as it means that the new variants are unlikely to go unnoticed,” said Aitana Librand, responsible for the new platform.

single entry point

As of August 2021, more than 5,600 sequences have been analyzed by more than a dozen academic or private laboratories in Switzerland. But a central standard system is necessary to properly record and coordinate the SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences.

“Thanks to the monitoring platform developed by the Criminal Investigation Bureau, we are able to access a central, unified database through a single entry point, rather than receiving reports from each laboratory in different formats,” said Miriam Musahl, associate director of the institute’s department of epidemiology. OFSP.

Funded by the Swiss authorities, the SPSP platform is also offering fully anonymous viral sequences to open scientific platforms, such as the European COVID-19 portal, to boost international research. Switzerland ranks fourth in the number of SARS-CoV-2 sequences it shares, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.

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