Challenges in the broad deployment and use of an accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 have created barriers to understanding the progression of the outbreak in the US. Over five years ago, CDC began building whole genome sequencing (WGS) capacity through workforce training and deployment of whole genome sequencers to State public health laboratories across the US. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) provides a highly accurate method to identify and confirm a pathogen, but requires extensive computational analysis using specialized software and large computing clusters to interpret the results. Gaps in the capabilities of public health and clinical labs in performing this computational analysis have prevented the widescale use of WGS in pathogen testing during an outbreak, despite agreement on its potential for this purpose1. Today, InductiveHealth announces the availability of a COVID-19 analytic pipeline on its genomic computing platform, closing this key capability gap in the broadscale use of WGS testing for COVID-19.
InductiveHealth CEO, Matthew Dollacker: “Observing the challenges with CDC’s COVID-19 PCR test first-hand, we saw the urgent need for a broadly-deployed, accurate diagnostic test and knew whole genome sequencing had a lot to offer. However, using research-grade tools like WGS for routine testing has been a challenge for public health labs, due to the significant IT demands of working with the instrument outputs. Sometimes it takes a change event for the status quo to shift. We saw the gap and were able to customize our genomic computing platform for COVID-19, allowing these amazing lab tools to be more easily used to combat this grave public health threat.”
Three years ago, InductiveHealth began developing a genomic computing platform after seeing how WGS was being used at CDC to understand the sources of foodborne disease outbreaks. These tools can not only accurately identify a novel pathogen, but can also characterize strains and even disease clusters, creating a map of how an infection spreads through a population. InductiveHealth began working with public health labs in the states of Washington and Wyoming to develop a similar capability for broader use outside of CDC’s advanced laboratory and computational genomics groups to respond to infectious disease outbreaks more generally. Working with these labs, InductiveHealth developed a platform to fill the key computational, analytic, and systems integration gaps needed to support the broad use of WGS for outbreak analysis.
Clinical laboratories with WGS equipment interested in performing COVID-19 WGS testing can start using InductiveHealth’s COVID-19 pipeline as of today. The onboarding process takes under an hour and can be started at https://www.inductivehealth.com/COVID-19.
Even once an accurate PCR test for COVID-19 is broadly available, WGS can provide confirmatory testing and additional insights into strains and disease clusters, helping epidemiologists track and contain the sources of local outbreaks.
InductiveHealth Informatics helps to keep people safe from infectious disease by solving complex public health technology problems for governments around the globe. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, InductiveHealth’s work can be seen in the United States supporting State and Federal health agencies, in Africa supporting PEPFAR and Global Fund initiatives, and elsewhere globally, delivering some of the most complex technology efforts in public health. Over a dozen states, jurisdictions, and foreign national governments entrust their systems and data to InductiveHealth.
InductiveHealth’s technology is implemented to rigorous US Federal Government standards for information security, in compliance with FISMA, HIPAA, and HITECH standards. InductiveHealth manages more clinical-to-public health integrations than any other firm, providing leading capabilities and advanced technology to understand and combat the spread of infectious disease.