BERLIN, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Germany plans to require laboratories to test the gene sequence of COVID-19 samples to determine whether they match the new, more infectious variants of the disease that are spreading rapidly in Britain and South Africa.
According to a draft law that was released for inter-ministerial discussion on Monday, the government will give laboratories 200 million euros ($243 million) to carry out the gene sequencing that is needed to identify the specific variant.
Germany has been less active in coronavirus genome sequencing than leading European nations in the area such as Britain, Denmark or Finland, hampering surveillance of the spread of the more infectious variants.
“It is especially important to spot rapidly variants whose mutations carry a particular risk, for example by being more easily transmissible,” the draft law said. Variants might also make the disease more serious or render the virus more resistant to a vaccine, it added.
The new mutations are believed to be responsible for a recent upswing in the number of coronavirus cases in Britain and Ireland. Individual cases have already been spotted in Germany. ($1 = 0.8232 euro) (Reporting by Andreas Rinke; writing by Thomas Escritt; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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