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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Faster and cheaper genetic sequencing can give us the ability to test for almost any infectious pathogen — provided we use it.

Why it matters: Doctors never identify the causative agents of many infections, leading them to misdiagnose patients and even miss the early emergence of new diseases, but wider use of genetic sequencing promises a future in which no virus will be left behind.

Driving the news: On Friday, the White House announced the federal government would invest $1.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan to "improve the detection, monitoring and mitigation" of COVID-19 variants, including funding to shore up the country's lagging genomic sequencing efforts.

Context: More widespread genetic sequencing could be the key not just to tracking coronavirus variants, but identifying mysterious pathogens of all kinds: viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and more.

  • One example: The Virginia-based startup Aperiomics has developed a massive database of the genetic sequences of tens of thousands of known pathogens.
  • When doctors are presented with an infection of unknown cause, they can use shotgun metagenomic sequencing — decoding the genes of all organisms in a biological sample — and compare the findings against Aperiomics' list.
  • If unknown genetic sequences show up, it's a decent clue that doctors could be dealing with something new.

What they're saying: "There is a huge difference between what we know exists and what the existing testing is capable of identifying," Aperiomics CEO Crystal Icenhour says.

What to watch: How quickly improvements in genetic sequencing bring down the costs of such tests, and whether insurance companies will cover them.

Go deeper: Axios' Coronavirus Variant Tracker.

Go deeper

Apr 16, 2021 - Health

CDC: U.S. has administered over 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has administered more than 202 million coronavirus vaccine doses since the start of its inoculation campaign, with nearly 4 million vaccinations reported on Friday alone, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The numbers indicate Biden is on track to fulfill his promise of 200 million vaccinations within his first 100 days in office. The president set a new goal late last month after it became clear the U.S. was outpacing his initial goal of 100 million doses.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump works refs ahead of book barrage

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Former President Trump has given at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office, with authors lining up at Mar-a-Lago as he labors to shape a coming tsunami of Trump tomes, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Trump advisers see the coming book glut as proof that interest in "POTUS 45," as they call him, has never been higher. These advisers know that most of the books will paint a mixed picture, at best. But Trump is working the refs with charm, spin and dish.