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BRUSSELS – The European Union’s health commissioner has urged governments to boost efforts to detect coronavirus mutations, as some lag behind even as the new Omicron variant is detected around the bloc.
The variant first found in southern Africa has now been identified in several European countries, but it is hard to track its spread as various countries do not carry out sufficient genome sequencing of positive samples.
“Certain Member States lag behind considerably in terms of this crucial dimension,” Stella Kyriakides said in a letter seen by Reuters to health ministers of the 27 EU countries.
She urged all member states to do more.
Genomic sequencing decodes genes in the SARS-CoV-2 genome to tell scientists which variant might be present, allowing them to monitor mutations and learn more about the virus.
Kyriakides did not name the laggards, but data from the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) show that in the first half of November seven EU countries did not sequence at a sufficient level. They were Finland, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Ireland.
Belgium, the first European country to detect the Omicron variant, identified the case by sequencing just 3% of