Two biologists from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory are conducting on-site sequencing of the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 using hand-held sequencing systems.
Peter Thielen and Tom Mehoke of APL's research and exploratory development department have finished analyzing the first four COVID-19 samples with over 100 samples from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas waiting to be sequenced, APL said Monday.
The researchers said they hope to use the information from genome sequencing to determine how fast the virus mutates.
“What we're doing informs whether or not the virus is mutating away from that original sequence, and how quickly,“ Thielen said. “Based on the mutation rate, early data indicates that this would likely be a single vaccine rather than one that needs to be updated each year, like the flu shot.“
Mehoke and Thielen carried out two workshops in the past nine months in partnership with the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center to teach scientists from middle- and income-low countries how to use the hand-held DNA sequencers.