Providence, HealthPartners team up with Helix to monitor respiratory viruses

The CDC has awarded Helix a $5 million contract to develop a pan-respiratory viral surveillance program with Renton, Wash.-based Providence and Bloomington, Minn.-based HealthPartners. 

The contract expands the CDC's partnership with the population genomics and viral surveillance company, which has already been helping the health agency track COVID-19 variants. 

The new viral surveillance "early warning program" will identify and track more than 30 respiratory viral variants, including flu, respiratory syncytial virus and SARS-CoV-2. Helix will also collect deidentified EHR data for up to 16,000 respiratory virus samples a year from Providence and HealthPartners. In return, the company will share viral sequencing data with the systems to help inform their own analyses. 

"Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers continue to be on the front lines of the public health response to COVID-19 and must have information available to help us more readily prepare for future pandemics," Leslie Dockan, vice president of primary care, clinic operations and laboratories at HealthPartners, said in a Dec 15 news release. "As part of Helix's multi-site viral monitoring network, it allows health systems like ours to horizon scan and study our regional data to watch for growing variant trends and more effectively manage disease risk for our communities."

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