COVID-19 and targeting SARS-CoV-2 virus: Direct and RT-PCR sequences from wastewater collected from treatment plants (Sudbury – Ontario)

Merritt, Thomas | $50,000

Ontario Laurentian 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

We need to be able to rapidly and efficiently determine the presence and prevalence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in our communities and how this presence responds to the social and medical interventions.

In many ways, the raw sewage of our cities is a fantastic genetic gold mine, particularly for the pathogens that collect there. We are planning to mine this genetic resource to detect and evaluate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 using a new genetic sequencing technology. This new technology can be applied to sequence the virus genome either directly or through specific variable genetic regions using different approaches. We propose to use these two methodologies to identify and quantify the presence of the pandemic virus in the sewage collection areas.

This information will be used as to estimate the virus’ spread and to following changes in the outbreak through time. These results will aid local government in making informed, evidence-based, decisions to help slow and control of the pandemic. Once the protocols and relationships are well established, we will be able to scale this project quickly and extend it to different geographic areas and populations. This project is the result of a partnership between Health Sciences North, Laurentian University and the City of Greater Sudbury established to combat the pandemic.

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