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Environmental genomic surveillance as a tool to detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 variants in Brazil

Abstract

We do not know which variants of SARS-CoV-2 occur today in Brazil, an even worse situation in the different regions of the country. The little that is known is due to the study of patients with classic or suspected symptoms for COVID-19, whose material follows to determine the viral variant after diagnosis, which in the best scenario is determined several days after the onset of symptoms. In this way, this project seeks to assist in accelerating the discovery and determination of variants of greater local importance. The rationale is that determining variants found in environmental samples may be able to anticipate samples that will have greater clinical relevance in the near future. Likewise, we do not know whether current viral variants will remain with relevant frequencies after vaccination, whether some will grow in prevalence after massive vaccination, or whether new variants will emerge after vaccination, scenarios that may indicate some level of resistance to immunization. In the same way, we will have a faster method that can detect the entry of variants on the rise in other countries of the world. This is a pilot project, involving six cities, half in the State of Paraná and half in the State of São Paulo. In these cities, we will evaluate samples of the hospital and non-hospital environments. If successful and informative, we will apply to expand the project to the whole country. Only environmental collections will be obtained, with no collections from individuals. The data will be analyzed quickly and disseminated to the competent health authorities. (AU)

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