Interviewer: Professor Eric Vail, thank you very much for
taking the time to do this interview with us today, to discuss
the emergence of new viral phenotypes, of
the new Californian and Indian SARS-CoV-2 variants in particular.
First of all, what is the status of SARS-CoV-2 genetic surveillance in the USA today,
as well as more specifically in California?
Prof. Vail: Significantly better than it used to be.
You can look back towards the beginning of this year or even before that,
and we're talking about a couple of thousand sequences a week.
Now, especially during the end of May, you're having 10 to 15 times that number,
30/40/50 thousand sequences a week.
I think that there has been a significant ramp up, and
a significant effort to try to really track as much of this virus as possible.
New variant detection needs about five percent of all cases being sequenced.
We were under one percent for a long time, and we're really starting to get to that critical threshold,
especially to where the UK was for quite a long time,
considering that they were over five percent even back in October,
they really had a robust sequencing effort.
Interviewer: What initially prompted you to conduct such extensive screening, of
SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes found in California specifically?
Prof. Vail: We have two different studies that we did, one in the very early days of the pandemic, about March/April of 2020.