COVID-19: London Lab Adds Variant Screening for Southwestern Ontario


The Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PaLM) team in London, Ont., Is now investigating all COVID-19-positive samples from southwestern Ontario for forms of concern.

PaLM’s new service, a joint venture between the London Health Sciences Center and St Joseph’s Health Care London, is part of provincial screening efforts to identify cases of a wide variety of concerns that now account Ontario has about 90 percent of new cases.

“The concern has been in Ontario for a few months now,” says Chief Laboratory Officer Mike Kadour, but the work is being done exclusively in Toronto’s Public Health Ontario.

“We are now participating to help lighten the load and improve timeliness for our communities in southwestern Ontario.”

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Kadoor says that after initial lab test positives for COVID-19 have come, labs conduct variants of anxiety screening “to identify if there are specific mutations associated with some of these emerging variants.”

The N501Y mutation is associated with B.1.1.7, the first variant identified in Britain, while the E474K mutation is associated with both variants B.1.351, first identified in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, the first. Brazil identified in the bar.

The LHSC states that samples with N501Y mutations are considered only B.1.1.7 and will not be sequenced further, whereas samples with either or only E484K mutations are “public for additional sequencing and variant / lineage characterization. Will be sent to the health laboratory. “

London’s screening capabilities will certainly save the province time, Kadour says, but the “important part here” is that the screening provides information – such as where the variants are spreading and how quickly – that inform the epidemic response Does.

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“Variants of anxiety screening are actually part of Ontario’s monitoring activities for us to be collectively prepared and aware and then to holistically adjust our responses.”

The LHSC states that screening will not affect the process for individuals in the region who are waiting for their COVID-19 test results. They will still receive their results through the Ontario Health Portal and any identifiable results will be “communicated separately to the appropriate public health unit for follow-up.”

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PaLM has the ability to process 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day and “regularly” completes a 24-hour turnaround time for results.

During the epidemic, the LHSC states that “PaLM has expanded its regional cooperation to include seven public health units, long-term care / retirement home operators and primary care providers.”

“It takes a lot of skilled individuals like our microbiologists, our medical lab technologists, and assistants and our colleagues in our IT group, so to put all kinds of pieces together back and forth,” Kador says.

He also said that the team is ready to redesign the trial with its partners in public health Ontario and across the province in response to any new versions.

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“It’s not the one that still stands,” he says.


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