COVID: Leftover swabs to be tested for other viruses in the UK

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In a new disease-tracking initiative, millions of UK COVID test samples will be examined for the presence of flu and other dangerous respiratory viruses.

On the de-identified nose and throat samples left over from the epidemic, the Wellcome Sanger Institute team will perform in-depth genetic reads.

Scientists claim the programme might serve as an early warning system for promptly identifying potential illness concerns in the future.

Additionally, it might be used to find novel cures and preventative measures.

In a few years, the NHS might perform these kinds of examinations routinely on patients for extensive surveillance if the programme can be scaled up.

In the future, it might also check for diseases caused by certain bacteria and fungi.

All of the data will be freely and publicly available, and the scientists will collaborate with teams from the government and public health.

“Genomic sequencing has been vital in the response to the COVID epidemic and will continue to be pivotal in worldwide efforts to address all types of threats to health in the future,” said Prof. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health and Security Agency.

A member of the Wellcome Sanger Institute team, Dr. Ewan Harrison, explained: “We’ll make use of COVID Testing’s unused diagnostic samples.” There are millions of us. Instead of wasting them, we can put them to use.

The NHS COVID Test and Trace Lighthouse laboratories, which were established during the pandemic, provided the nose and throat swabs.

“We intend to help fill some of the gaps in our fundamental understanding of respiratory infection and health while also tackling some of the most important public health problems,” he said.

It is quite simple for respiratory illnesses to spread from one person to another through coughs and sneezes.

Outside of the body, germs can survive for hours on surfaces.

When you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after picking up a virus from contaminated surfaces, it can enter your body.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom.

The majority of respiratory infections will go away on their own in a week or two, but for some people, they can be serious or even fatal.

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