Biden Administration Announces $1.7 Billion Investment to Fight COVID-19 Variants

The original strain of COVID-19 comprises only about half of all cases in America today. New and potentially dangerous strains of the virus make up the other half. In order to improve the detection, monitoring, and mitigation of these COVID-19 variants, the Biden Administration is rapidly investing $1.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help states and other jurisdictions more effectively fight these mutations.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

An essential component of the response to the emerging COVID-19 variants is increasing the country’s genomic sequencing — the process by which COVID DNA is decoded and potentially deadly mutations in the virus are detected. Today’s funding, allocated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will help the CDC, states, and other jurisdictions more effectively detect and track variants by scaling genomic sequencing efforts. With the information from sequencing, the CDC and state and local public health leaders can implement known prevention measures to stop the spread.

In early February, U.S. laboratories were only sequencing about 8,000 COVID-19 strains per week. Since then, the rate of sequencing has increased substantially, strengthening the country’s ability to detect and respond to emerging and more contagious COVID-19 strains, like the variants currently sweeping through the Midwest and parts of the East Coast. The Biden Administration has already made a nearly $200 million investment to help increase genomic sequencing to 29,000 samples per week.  Thanks to today’s funding from the American Rescue Plan, states and the CDC will expand that even further and, importantly, provide states with more resources to expand their own efforts to increase geographic coverage of sequencing to better detect emerging threats like variants. This will mean that both existing and any new COVID variants could be detected faster, before they grow prevalent.

Today’s announcement includes:

  • $1 billion to expand genomic sequencing:  This funding will help CDC, states, and other jurisdictions improve their capacity to identify COVID mutations and monitor circulation of variants. Specifically, it will allow CDC and jurisdictional health departments to conduct, expand, and improve activities to sequence genomes and identify mutations in SARS-CoV-2. Much of this work is done through CDC partnerships with the laboratory community and through state laboratories, and the funding will support the collection of COVID specimens, the sequencing of COVID viruses, and the sharing of the resultant data. A state-by-state breakdown of the initial $240 million in jurisdictional funding support is below.
  • $400 million to support innovation initiatives including the launch of new innovative Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology:  The funding will establish six Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology. These centers of excellence will operate as partnerships between state health departments and academic institutions, and today’s funding will fuel cutting-edge research into genomic epidemiology. For example, the partnerships could focus on developing new genomic surveillance tools to better track pathogens of public health interest with the objective of developing surveillance methods to be used more widely in the public health system.  Areas of focus will likely include bioinformatic workflows and the critical integration of genomic and epidemiologic data.
  • $300 million to build and support a National Bioinformatics Infrastructure: One of the challenges of building out the nation’s sequencing capacity is having the data system necessary to quickly and effectively access information and turn it into concrete actions to prevent the spread of viruses. Experts use bioinformatics and complex computing to connect the dots between how pathogens spread and mutate to help solve outbreaks. This investment will support bioinformatics throughout the U.S. public health system, creating a unified system for sharing and analyzing sequence data in a way that protects privacy but allows more informed decisionmaking. This funding also will support training to increase sequencing in clinical settings and expand CDC’s Bioinformatics Fellowship program.

STATE FUNDING BREAKDOWN
The first tranche of funding, outlined below, will be distributed in early May. A second tranche of funding will be invested over the next several years.

Recipient Name Initial disbursement
AL Alabama $3,593,711
AK Alaska $1,301,896
AZ Arizona $4,898,780
AR Arkansas $2,557,921
CA California (less LA County) $17,091,936
CO Colorado $4,063,734
CT Connecticut $2,858,697
DE Delaware $1,434,966
DC District of Columbia $1,287,724
FL Florida $12,699,436
GA Georgia $6,732,998
HI Hawaii $1,677,852
ID Idaho $1,881,778
IL Illinois (less Chicago) $6,381,627
IN Indiana $4,598,546
IA Iowa $2,633,332
KS Kansas $2,500,516
KY Kentucky $3,354,450
LA Louisiana $3,453,954
ME Maine $1,638,483
MD Maryland $4,221,375
MA Massachusetts $4,686,602
MI Michigan $6,386,578
MN Minnesota $3,998,300
MS Mississippi $2,535,036
MO Missouri $4,271,779
MT Montana $1,487,165
NE Nebraska $1,962,725
NV Nevada $2,592,176
NH New Hampshire $1,646,998
NJ New Jersey $5,779,696
NM New Mexico $2,051,956
NY New York (less NYC) $7,007,315
NC North Carolina $6,661,942
ND North Dakota $1,318,662
OH Ohio $7,321,756
OK Oklahoma $3,073,880
OR Oregon $3,217,140
PA Pennsylvania (less Philadelphia) $7,062,902
RI Rhode Island $1,481,992
SC South Carolina $3,728,600
SD South Dakota $1,386,014
TN Tennessee $4,651,811
TX Texas (less Houston) $15,555,044
UT Utah $2,661,289
VT Vermont $1,242,807
VA Virginia $5,589,242
WA Washington $5,083,469
WV West Virginia $1,884,569
WI Wisconsin $4,098,728
WY Wyoming $1,217,959
CHI Chicago $2,380,016
HOU Houston $2,174,709
LAC Los Angeles County $6,415,283
NYC New York City $5,480,079
PHL Philadelphia $1,770,253
AS American Samoa $927,139
GU Guam $992,571
MH Marshall Islands $942,797
FM Micronesia $956,256
MP Northern Marianas $928,238
PW Palau $911,922
PR Puerto Rico $2,654,551
VI Virgin Islands $958,344

Categories: Coronavirus, News