106 Covid variants identified in 12 U.S. States

RALEIGH, NC [March 9, 2021] — MAKO Medical Laboratories, a national reference laboratory and leader in COVID-19 testing, released new information regarding the company’s latest identification of COVID-19 variants across twelve of the forty-three states in which the company conducts COVID testing. Based on the MAKO laboratory team’s recent sequencing of 126 indicated samples, MAKO identified 106 additional variant cases, the most cases identified during any one reporting period since the team began sequencing in January 2021. The chart below details the results by state for sequencing conducted in February.

State Total Samples Sequenced B.1.1.7 Variant B.1.429 Variant B.1.525 Variant
CO 58 46 4 0
FL 18 15 0 0
GA 17 14 0 0
MD 7 2 0 0
NC 17 9 0 0
ND 2 0 0 1
OH 1 1 0 0
PA 9 6 0 0
SC 5 4 0 0
TX 1 1 0 0
VA 2 2 0 0
WI 2 1 0 0

“As reported cases of variants continue across the country, our sequencing efforts remain a strong asset in our ability to provide rapid, reliable data for state health officials,” said Steve Hoover, Vice President of Laboratory Operations at MAKO Medical. “With more data, state and local leaders will be able to better deploy resources to support patients and providers.”

In Photo: MAKO Medical team members processing testing samples in the Henderson, NC laboratory.

Since January, the MAKO team has utilized special equipment at its North Carolina lab to “sequence” or determine the exact order of chemical bases of a DNA molecule. Genome sequencing is essentially determining the order of chemical “bases” of a DNA molecule.  MAKO Medical has sequenced more than 700 COVID samples, finding 285 variant occurrences. Samples that have undergone sequencing contained variant markers such as “S gene drop-out” identified by qPCR.  The sequencing process can take between 2-3 days, and MAKO performs these tests through its partnership with state and local health officials in an effort to develop a comprehensive understanding of COVID-19 and its mutations. 

As reported, the B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020 and, as of March 4, has been identified in 2,672 individuals across forty-eight states in the United States. The B.1.429 variant was first identified in late 2020 and is being actively studied by the CDC and researchers to better understand how it is different from other variants. Based on the CDC guidance, B.1.1.7 and other variants are highly contagious and could trigger inaccurate PCR and Antigen test results if the laboratory does not test for multiple viral genes causing the virus to spread even further. MAKO’s qPCR testing identifies positive cases based on three different genes; S, N, Orf1ab, including cases of the “S gene drop-out,” which is an indicator for the presence of B.1.1.7.

In this most recent sequencing, the MAKO team also identified the presence of the B.1.525 in a sample from North Dakota. According to reports, this variant has been previously identified in multiple countries, including the United States. It has genomic characteristics similar to the B.1.1.7 variant and a shared mutation (E484K) with the B.1.351 variant.

College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited laboratory with more than 5 million COVID-19 tests performed since April 2020, MAKO Medical uses industry-leading testing assays, including the Applied Biosystems TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Assay. This week, MAKO also unveiled a new antigen test that utilizes the DiaSorin LIAISON® SARS-CoV-2 Ag to provide an additional option to identify the virus. For its sequencing efforts, MAKO uses a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) research panel to identify new mutations and variants. This research-only platform allows for the mapping of more than 99% of the SARS-Cov-2 genome and is specifically able to detect the B.1.1.7 variant along with many other variants.

MAKO Medical operates more than 70,000 square feet of laboratory space across two North Carolina facilities, one in Henderson and one in Raleigh.  The Henderson facility was expanded in 2020 in response to COVID-19, increasing the lab’s capacity from 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day to over 150,000 tests per day. 

Company Highlights:

  • August 2020, MAKO Medical announced the company scored 100% on CAP COVID Proficiency Testing, demonstrating MAKO’s commitment to quality lab results.
  • February 2021, MAKO Medical surpassed 5 million COVID-19 tests processed by the company’s North Carolina team.
  • Committed to the U.S. Military—At MAKO’s founding, leaders carved out divisions of the company to hire U.S. military veterans. These teams are foundational to MAKO’s elite and high-touch client services model.  In November 2020, MAKO held its first Veterans Day lunch to honor veterans.  The company served a free meal to all Vance County veterans and their family members.

About MAKO Medical

Founded in 2014, MAKO Medical is a diagnostics partner for businesses, physicians, urgent care facilities, and hospitals around the United States. MAKO Medical has recruited chemists and scientists to provide industry-leading innovation. MAKO Medical Laboratories’ methods and assays are validated for reproducibility, precision, and accuracy. MAKO Medical invests heavily in state-of-the-art instrumentation and technology. To learn more, visit makomedical.com.

A MAKO Medical Press Release