On February 28, 2020, Christian Drosten revealed the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 online and issued a warning on Twitter. Since the outbreak of Coronavirus worldwide, over 350 gnome sequences of its mutations have been identified so far on GISAID. These gnome sequences hold the clues as to how Coronavirus is evolving and spreading.

These insights can help the authorities and businesses choose between containment and shifting to mitigation strategies, especially in locations with a lag in testing.

Is there a pattern to how corona virus spreads?

According to Trevor Bedford, the co-founder of Nextstrain, COVID-19 mutations are useful pieces of a puzzle of how this virus is spreading.

Other experts claim the efficiency and speed of genetic sequencing technology have enabled the researchers all over the world to trace and document the destructive path of Coronavirus even faster.

Therefore, these insights can help the authorities and businesses choose between containment and shifting to mitigation strategies, especially in locations with a lag in testing.

At Charite University Hospital, Berlin, a virologist sequenced Coronavirus from a German candidate, who contracted the virus in Italy. This gnome looked identical to a virus strain in a patient in Bavaria over a month ago. However, both gnomes shared three mutations never seen in the earlier sequences from China.

Drosten saw a pattern that could set the impression that an Italian outbreak generated from Bavaria, which cannot be because authorities claimed to have nipped it in the bud via quarantine and isolation. There has to be a different source of how the virus traveled all the way from Bavaria to Italy because both gnomes had different mutations.

Virologist Eeva Broberg from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control supports Drosten. She believes Gnomes are a good way to track a virus, but it can sometimes over-interpret things on how there are random conceivable ways for the virus to reach Northern Italy than a spread of virus gone undetected.

Was the hypothesis by Bedford correct? Could random people carry various strains of Coronavirus within them in the same location?

Another Theory

After the outbreak in Washington, US, Trevor Bedford wrote that it is highly unlikely the two gnomes of the virus came from separate locations. He further wrote that Washington would be facing a substantial outbreak that has gone undetected for a while.

Guess what? His analysis was correct. The hypothesis by Bedford was stronger as two patients linked to outspread in Washington came from Snohomish County. So, random people may carry various strains of Coronavirus within them in the same location.

Random testing is critical

Experts now believe that random testing is crucial for tracking Coronavirus. According to them, sentinel testing may help us trace COVID-19 within our communities and businesses.

As more and more COVID-19 testing sites are closing down across Central Florida, a medical research expert believes random sample testing for viruses is the way forward to trace it.

According to Dr. Ali Mokdad from Florida, he has seen cars lined up at several testing sites. These are the people who have a suspicion they have contracted novel coronavirus. However, this is not the way to tell how Coronavirus is spreading and evolving through the communities.

Mokdad works as a researcher at the University of Washington with IHME (Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation). So far, IHME’s projections for COVID-19 have been very helpful and widely used for tracking the Coronavirus nationally, including with the White House.

Mokdad believes we are on the right path, and our focus should be on determining the random sampling we are testing in each of our communities and workplaces. It will help us monitor the prevalence of Coronavirus and the incident of an outbreak in our surroundings.

Mokdad believes our focus should be on determining the random sampling we are testing in each of our communities and workplaces.

What did Florida do?

We saw Florida’s coronavirus dashboard breaking down COVID-19 testing numbers. However, there were no traces or mention of sentinel or random testing in a randomly moving population.

News 6 later received an email by a spokesperson from the Florida State Emergency Operations Center. It said sentinel testing is in the pipeline, and they will implement throughout Florida, including Orange County.

The Orange County’s Department of Health did some random testing in their nursing homes during April 2020. They conducted random testing at five nursing homes, where they randomly picked ten individuals from each facility.

All the results came out negative. According to Dr. Raul Pino, who is a health officer at Florida’s Department of Health, the department took this exercise as a good gauge of the nursing homes’ operation in Orange country. Many private companies have adopted this approach in Sumter country.

It could be worth businesses considering this simple approach, requesting random volunteers to test in a pro-active effort to rule-out potential outbreaks.

Conclusion

It does not sound such a bad idea for the businesses in our communities to practice the same approach. Yes, it may not be possible to have all your employees tested. However, you can pick random individuals to gauge and rule-out any potential outbreak by a pro-active tracking of virus randomly.

This approach is applicable in almost every business sector, such as private and public schools, privately owned food and distribution companies, automotive manufacturing, tech companies, and the hospitality sector, etc.

You sample random employees, and you will be able to identify how many of them are infection carriers. Additionally, you will also be able to find out how many of them carry the antibodies.

Do this randomly by picking random employees in your business every week, and you may be able to track the situation of Coronavirus and its potential outbreak within your vicinity.

There are no conclusive findings on how successful we can or will be in tracking coronavirus within a randomly moving population. However, staying pro-active and following experts’ advice and updates is our best chance of tackling this pandemic.