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 nine states of the thirty-eight states in which the company conducts COVID testing. Based on the MAKO laboratory team’s recent sequencing of indicated samples, MAKO identified eighty-eight variant cases. This is the most in one week since sequencing began in January 2021.
“Our sequencing efforts continue to follow reported trends of rising COVID-19 variants across the United States,” said Steve Hoover, Vice President of Laboratory Operations at MAKO Medical. “We value our partnerships with state health officials as we recognize the importance variant identifications have on the overall understanding of the virus and its mutation. We believe this work is vital to the health and safety of citizens across the United States.”
Since January, the MAKO team has sequenced nearly 372 samples and have identified 163 variant cases. 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.
The predominant variant remains the B 1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, which made up the overwhelming majority of MAKO’s latest variant cases. Additionally, MAKO identified eleven cases of the B.1.351 variant in South Carolina. A full list of the latest MAKO-identified variant samples by state is provided in the chart below.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of February 11, 981 B 1.1.7 cases have been identified across thirty-seven states and thirteen B.1.351 across five states.
According to published reports, the B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in September and detected in several other countries as of late 2020. The B.1.351 variant emerged independently of B.1.1.7 and was initially detected in early October 2020 in South Africa. The CDC has found that the B.1.351 variant shares some mutations with B.1.1.7, and cases caused by this variant began to be identified in January 2021. 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.
A 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. MAKO is also utilizing a new Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) research panel as a part of their work identifying the 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. In the past 12 months, the MAKO team has grown from 350 people to more than 1,000.
- March 2020, Forbes Magazine included MAKO Medical in its inaugural list of America’s Best Startup
- Employers. Only 500 companies nationwide earned the distinction.
- August 2020, MAKO Medical announced the company scored 100% on CAP COVID Proficiency Testing,
- demonstrating MAKO’s commitment to quality lab results.
- December 2020, MAKO Medical surpassed 4 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.