Blanket Screening Launched to Detect Presence of Coronavirus Mutations

While the previous anti-coronavirus measures are being relaxed, the Ministry of Health is launching a blanket screening of positive PCR samples and setting up a network of sequencing centres to detect the presence of Covid-19 mutations in the Czech Republic. Photo Credit: (Cropped).

Czech Rep., June 25 (BD) – In response to the growing spread of coronavirus mutations across Europe, from July, the Ministry of Health is launching a blanket screening of positive Covid-19 samples to identify the existing mutations in the Czech Republic. Additionally, a network of sequencing centres is being established to detect new mutations of the virus.

As the restrictions on travelling are being gradually lifted, the Ministry of Health has prepared a national strategy for the molecular-biological surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and is planning a system aimed at identifying possible coronavirus mutations in positive PCR samples to keep the pandemic under control.

The comprehensive screening of positive samples involves a large number of laboratories across the Czech Republic performing discriminative PCR tests on SARS-CoV-2 samples. The Ministry has also introduced compensation to be paid to laboratories for discriminative PCR tests covered by public health insurance. By providing compensation of CZK 614 for the test and CZK 47 for sampling, the Ministry wants to ensure that every positive sample identified by the PCR method will be examined for mutations.

According to Barbora Macková, Director of the National Institute of Public Health, “Discriminative PCR testing does not require new equipment, but only the securing of material. Should any of the laboratories not perform this blanket screening, they can make arrangements with another laboratory and pass on the samples. Laboratories are and will be informed regularly about which mutations must currently be monitored through our National Reference Laboratory for flu and non-flu respiratory viral diseases.”

In addition to the blanket screening of positive PCR tests, the Ministry of Health has developed a network of sequencing centres focused on tracking changes in the SARS-COV2 virus and detecting entirely new mutations of coronavirus on the territory of the Czech Republic. The network consists of laboratories within the framework of state contributory organisations and is controlled by the Ministry of Health and the centres under the Ministry of Agriculture.

In comparison with the PCR method, sequencing provides slower results and is more expensive, but is irreplaceable when changes in the virus need to be monitored.

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