The Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute (PPI) announced that it will support the population genomics company Helix’s national SARS-CoV-2 surveillance effort by funding infrastructure, data systems and technology . The goal of the partnership is to provide greater connectivity to other surveillance efforts and also to advance the public health need for more comprehensive viral sequencing.
“The rapid spread of Omicron continues to underscore the need for sustainable pathogen surveillance capabilities that will enable local communities to prepare for and prevent pandemic outbreaks,” said Rick Bright, senior vice president of prevention and of the response to pandemics to the Rockefeller Foundation and CEO of the PPI in a press Release. “Helix’s ability to deploy, coordinate and deliver the latest laboratory and data capabilities for national viral surveillance illustrates the importance of public-private partnerships in pandemic prevention efforts today and into the future. “
Since the onset of the pandemic, Helix has applied its next-generation sequencing technology to help track the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through its work with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During this time period, Helix’s public data sharing dashboard provided reports to state public health, health systems, and other healthcare facilities. In addition, the company has published more than a dozen pre-printed and peer-reviewed studies detailing the viral sequences, some of which have predicted the spread of the virus across the country.
While current surveillance efforts are focused on mitigating the effects of the pandemic, the use of NGS sequencing to better understand the evolution and spread of the virus can also be applied to any future viral outbreak.
“We are delighted to partner with the Pandemic Prevention Institute to develop sustainable data generation and exchange technologies for better pathogen surveillance,” said James Lu, CEO and co-founder of Helix in a prepared statement . “These capabilities are essential for COVID-19 today and will also be essential for monitoring other respiratory pathogens such as pandemic influenza. The acceleration of new technologies will allow provider systems and public health to rethink the way they care for their populations. “
The Rockefeller Foundation’s PPI seeks to help build systems that detect, prevent and mitigate pandemic threats, with the goal of rapid and effective containment. PPI’s mission is to integrate cutting-edge technology and analytical approaches that make data actionable and to develop a federated data network around the world to enable collaborative leadership at a global level.