An SVSU Saginaw-Bay water shed project just might be the tip of the spear for a new way to discover the coronavirus.
In collaboration with Michigan State University, Saginaw Valley State University professor Tami Sivy is repurposing technology for detecting microbacteria contamination at beaches to sniffing out the COVID-19 virus in waste water.
Their project is modeled after a study in New England.
What was learned is that COVID-19 might be more widespread than what is known with current testing.
“A group in Boston found that the levels of the virus in the wastewater corresponded to levels of infection of the humans in the area that were anywhere from, I believe, ten to a thousand-fold greater than the number that had tested positive,” said Sivy.
This is just one test and Sivy and her team’s goal is to refine and pinpoint the results. But, if those numbers hold true, this is good news for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that this can be used as an early indicator for the spread of the virus even from those who are asymptomatic which could be critical if there is a second wave.
“So, it is a good measure of the infected people in our region as well as it can be detected eve before humans feel symptoms,” said Sivy.
The second reason is that these numbers would be good news for the death rate.
“If we can better determine how many people are infected, symptomatic and asymptomatic, that would increase the number of cases in a region and that would make the death go much lower,” said Sivy.
Sivy and her student are still in the process of collecting samples and plan on spending the month of Ma doing plenty of testing.