The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will expand its infectious disease surveillance program at multiple U.S. airports to detect 30+ pathogens, including influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2.
According to The Epoch Times, the “pilot is part of the agency’s Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance (TGS) program.”
Biotech companies Ginkgo Bioworks and XpresCheck operate the agency’s TGS program.
“According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ginkgo Bioworks received a $2.3 million grant in October from the foundation, which also funds the CDC, the CDC Foundation, and numerous pharmaceutical companies that have developed or are developing vaccines for various pathogens tested as part of the pilot program,” Chief Nerd cited from the article.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expanding its infectious disease surveillance program at four major U.S. airports as part of a new pilot program to provide early detection of more than 30 known pathogens, including influenza A and B, respiratory syncytial… pic.twitter.com/h8lEWg03aw
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) November 7, 2023
For a pilot program, it’s now expanding to test for more than 30 bacteria, antimicrobial resistance targets and viruses including influenza A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, at Boston Logan International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.Advertisement
The traveler surveillance program was introduced in 2021 when the CDC began collecting nasal swab samples from anonymous international travelers arriving at participating airports who volunteer to get swabbed.
“We started this as a concept. Could we get travelers to volunteer at the airport to give us a sample voluntarily when they came in from countries all over the globe?” Friedman said. “And could we get enough samples to then test and do genomic sequencing and know very quickly what was coming into our country.”
As of last month, the surveillance program has tested over 370,000 travelers through nasal swab sampling, with around 6,000 travelers volunteering weekly. The program has collected samples from travelers from more than 135 countries and has sequenced more than 14,000 samples for further analysis.
The wastewater program, which was introduced in August 2022, collects wastewater from a single plane using a custom-made collection device. Samples are then shipped to a laboratory for RT-PCR testing. If samples come back positive for a specific pathogen, such as Covid-19, they undergo whole genome sequencing to determine variants.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will expand its traveler-based surveillance program to include testing for respiratory viruses, partners Ginkgo Bioworks and XWELL said on Monday.https://t.co/7gDgmszPCB pic.twitter.com/5hmWrTstUO
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) November 6, 2023
“By building sustainable, scalable infrastructure that is capable of detecting biological threats beyond SARS-CoV-2, the TGS program is a global leader in the evolution of biosecurity,” Matt McKnight, general manager for biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks, said, according to The Epoch Times.
More from The Epoch Times:
XpresCheck CEO Ezra Ernst said in the statement: “With air travel exceeding pre-pandemic levels and the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, it is crucial that we continue to test. The data that we collect provides crucial insights for public health officials to inform how best to protect our nation from the threat of evolving viruses.”
According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ginkgo Bioworks received a $2.3 million grant in October from the foundation, which also funds the CDC, the CDC Foundation, and numerous pharmaceutical companies that have developed or are developing vaccines for various pathogens tested as part of the pilot program.