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Indonesia ramps up effort to spot elusive COVID variants

'Genomic surveillance' effort to sequence 10,000 samples under fire over strategy

A healthcare worker injects a dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination drive for vendors and shop keepers at Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta on Feb 17.   © EPA/Jiji

JAKARTA -- Indonesian scientists are planning to sequence 10,000 samples of COVID-19 this year to detect variants of the virus that may be circulating around the vast archipelago.

Last month, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin signed a memorandum of understanding with Minister of Research and Technology (RISTEK) Bambang Brodjonegoro to collaborate on "genomic surveillance" -- the process of identifying virus variants by sequencing genetic materials collected from infected patients.

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