BURLINGTON – The emerging of a COVID-19 variant, especially in the United Kingdom, has health leaders scrambling to identify changes in the virus that causes the disease. And the Centers for Disease Control has enlisted global life science LabCorp to help fight that battle.

LabCorp, which has developed at-home COVID-19 testing and been involved in other aspects of the pandemic, said Thursday it had been awarded a contract with the CDC to provide genomic sequencing samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

LabCorp, which is based in Burlington and has a growing presence in the Research Triangle, gathers data for a wide variety of laboratory tests and will be part of a genomic survey of the virus across the US, the company said.

Sambples submitted to the CDC will be “random” and “de-identified,” LabCorp said.

“The survey aims to provide important baseline information for national and state-level surveillance, help define changes in transmission, identify new variants of the virus, and improve the public health response to the virus,” LabCorp explained. “Through this program, the CDC aims to more than double the rate of genomic samples sequenced per week.”

LabCorp will provide completed sequences as part of an effort tha also includes other labs – private ahd public sector.

“Better decision making starts with better data, and we are eager to help the CDC in its effort to improve the nation’s understanding of this virus and how to effectively fight it,” said Dr. Marcia Eisenberg, chief scientific officer at Labcorp. “This sequencing survey is a critical project to ensure our knowledge of COVID-19 improves even as the virus may mutate and change.”

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