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Latest variant cases identified in six states

February 9, 2021

MAKO Medical Laboratories, a national leader in COVID-19 testing, released new information regarding its latest identification of COVID-19 variants across six states in which the company conducts COVID testing. Based on the MAKO laboratory team’s recent sequencing of indicated samples, MAKO identified thirty-five variant cases. The predominant variant remains the B 1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, which made up the overwhelming majority of the latest variant cases reported. Additionally, MAKO identified one case of the B.1.351 variant in South Carolina and four L452R variant cases (3 in Colorado and 1 in North Carolina). A full list of the latest MAKO-identified variant samples by state is provided in the chart below.

State B 1.1.7 Variant B.1.351 Variant L452R Variant
Colorado 11 0 3
Florida 9 0 0
Georgia 1 0 0
Maryland 3 0 0
North Carolina 5 0 1
South Carolina 1 1 0


**Please note: In our initial media release on February 6, the release incorrectly listed the ‘cluster five’ variant as being found in samples in Colorado and North Carolina. MAKO did identify the presence of the ‘20C’ or L452R variant in the samples, but not the ‘cluster five’ variant. On Monday, MAKO was notified that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed these results.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of February 4, 611 B 1.1.7 cases have been identified across thirty-eight states and five B.1.351 across two states (South Carolina and Maryland).

“As we continue our sequencing of indicated samples, we have found a continued rise in variant occurrences,” said Steve Hoover, Vice President of Laboratory Operations at MAKO Medical. “Over the past week, indicated samples are now returning positive variant cases at a fifty-percent rate, up from a twenty-five percent rate last week. The information we are collecting is shared directly with state health officials to assist in understanding the presence of the variants in communities across the country.”

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. To date, MAKO has sequenced roughly 284 samples, which contained variant markers such as “S gene drop-out” identified by qPCR. The sequencing process can take between 2-3 days. 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.

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 100,000 tests per day. In the past 12 months, the MAKO team has grown from 350 people to more than 1,000.


Company Highlights:

  • 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.


INCLUDED PHOTO: MAKO Medical team members processing testing samples in the Henderson, NC laboratory.