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Inslee hopes UW gets part of $1.7 billion in federal COVID-19 variant research funding

The U.S. is setting up a $1.7 billion national network to identify and track worrisome coronavirus mutations whose spread could trigger another pandemic wave.

SEATTLE — On Friday, the Biden administration announced plans to spend $1.7 billion on COVID-19 variant research. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee would like some of that money to go to the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“I hope that it will allow us to use some federal funding instead of state funding,” Inslee said. He toured UW Medicine’s South Lake Union lab Friday.

“A lot of the work we’re doing now is for planning for the future,” researcher Dr. Helen Chu told Inslee. 

She presented him with an at-home COVID-19 test and said UW students are taking part in a national study. Students who have been vaccinated will submit swabs daily for the next four months.

”The goal of the trial is really to understand whether vaccines can prevent carriage of the virus even if you don’t have symptoms,” said Chu. “What we’re trying to answer is, once you get the vaccines, can we bring society back to normal?”

Inslee said the state should be proud of the work happening at the UW School of Medicine.

“The pace of innovation this group has been able to achieve is stunning,” said Inslee. “The world’s eyes are upon you!”