People wait in line for COVID-19 testing at San Fernando Recreation Park on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. In L.A. County, new coronavirus cases are dramatically increasing
Myung J. Chun—Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Genomic sequencing—the process of identifying the genetic makeup of a given organism—traditionally requires bulky, expensive lab equipment. Not so with Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ sequencers, some of which cost as little as $1,000 (affordable, as these things go) and are small enough to slip into a pocket. The devices allow for fast results in nearly all settings, making them a key tool in the fight to identify and stop the spread of new COVID-19 variants. They may be especially impactful in the developing world, where sequencing efforts are often hamstrung by limited access to technology and other resources.

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