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Germany intensifies search for COVID-19 mutations

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An intensified and targeted search for new COVID-19 variants would be carried out in Germany to get a better overview of the variants circulating in the country, as Minister of Health Jens Spahn presented a new decree on Monday.

The decree, effective from Tuesday, would aim to test at least five percent of positive COVID-19 samples for mutations. The laboratories and facilities that carry out the genome sequencing would transmit the collected data to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.

“We want to be able to understand even better where known mutations are spreading and whether there are new mutations,” Spahn said in a statement. A network of laboratories has already analyzed COVID-19 mutations but that is not enough to get an “accurate picture of the situation” in Germany.

Laboratories in Germany would be entitled to a compensation of 220 euros (265 United States dollars) per data transmission for the additional workload, according to the decree, which did not provide information on the exact costs arising from the federal budget.

As the upcoming costs would depend on the COVID-19 case numbers, in an exemplary estimation with an average of around 25,000 cases per day, 56 million euros would be needed by the end of July, according to the decree.

In some countries, the dynamics of the spread of the COVID-19 variants first detected in Britain and South Africa was worrying, said the RKI.

“Although it is still unclear how these new variants will affect the situation in Germany, there is a possibility that the situation will deteriorate further,” it said.

(XINHUA)

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