NJ hospital system’s COVID variant tool adapts to Delta mutation
Developed early this year to track what were at the time the three main variants of SARS-CoV-2, out of the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, a rapid sequencing technology being used by Hackensack Meridian Health's Center for Discovery and Innovation can now detect the highly contagious Delta strain that originated in India.
NJ.com reported that the molecular probing technology, a type of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), can scan for hundreds, if not thousands, of viruses in a matter of hours. Through a partnership with Quest Diagnostics, researchers can collect positive COVID test results from across the 17-hospital HMH network, and as new variants emerge, they can plug those sequences into the tool.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now reporting that the Delta variant has become the dominant strain present in the U.S., New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said during the state's Wednesday COVID briefing that it does not yet account for the majority of sequenced cases here.
But Persichilli echoed what the Center for Discovery and Innovation's Dr. David Perlin said in the NJ.com report, which is that Delta is rising rapidly among the state's unvaccinated occupants.
Over the holiday weekend, New Jersey finally, officially surpassed Gov. Phil Murphy's initial goal of getting 4.7 million adults, or an estimated 70% of the adult population prior to 2020 Census figures, fully vaccinated against the virus. The state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation.
As of Wednesday, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, the Delta variant accounts for just 1.6% of all variants sequenced to date, but 26.8% of those processed in the last four weeks, behind only the Alpha variant (40.4%).