Health officials in SC detect state’s first case of COVID-19 variant found in UK

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Health officials in South Carolina have identified the state’s first case of the COVID-19 variant found in the United Kingdom, according to a statement released on Saturday by MAKO Medical Laboratories.

The full statement is provided below:

“Today, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), MAKO Medical Laboratories, a national leader in COVID-19 testing, identified the first occurrence of the B.1.1.7 variant of the novel coronavirus in South Carolina. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of January 28, 315 cases of the B 1.1.7 variant have been identified in 28 states.

‘MAKO is proud to partner with state and local health departments across the country, including SCDHEC, to provide rapid, reliable, and actionable results,” said Steve Hoover, Vice President of
Laboratory Operations at MAKO Medical. “Using next-generation sequencing technology, we can analyze these samples to understand the presence of variants better and provide accurate information to health officials. We continue to provide a one-stop solution to providers for laboratory services in response to COVID-19.”

The B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in September and detected in several other countries as of late 2020. According to the CDC, B.1.1.7 and other variants are highly contagious and could trigger inaccurate PCR and Antigen test results if the laboratory does not test for multiple viral genes causing the virus to spread even further.

A College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited laboratory with more than 4 million COVID-19 tests performed since April, MAKO Medical uses industry-leading testing assays, including the Applied Biosystems TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Assay. MAKO is also utilizing a new Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) research panel as a part of their work identifying the new mutations and variants. This research only platform allows for the mapping of more than 99% of the SARS-Cov-2 genome and is specifically able to detect the B.1.1.7 variant along with many other variants.

MAKO Medical operates more than 70,000 square feet of laboratory space across two North Carolina
facilities, one in Henderson and one in Raleigh. The Henderson facility was recently expanded in
response to COVID-19, increasing the lab’s capacity from 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day to over 100,000 tests per day. In the past 12 months, the MAKO team has grown from 350 people to more than 1,000.”

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