Variants are discovered through “genomic sequencing.” Sequencing is a process that scientists use to decode the genes that make up a virus and learn more about the virus. Samples collected through testing go through sequencing at a laboratory. This process takes more time and effort than basic COVID-19 testing, which is why it is usually not possible to tell each person which variant they have. Instead, samples are chosen for sequencing either because the person is more likely to have a variant (due to travel, known exposure, etc.) or random samples are chosen for sequencing to help identify which variants are spreading in a community.
Missouri: Missouri is participating in the national surveillance for COVID-19 variants of concern. Our state’s public health laboratory is sequencing a limited number of samples for presence of genetic material specific to each variant. See the latest data. Since February 2021, the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services has been collaborating with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Missouri to test wastewater samples for the presence of COVID-19variants in our communities. Learn more about Missouri’s Sewershed Surveillance Project.