Analyzing wastewater to understand the spread of COVID-19

University of Missouri scientists are helping the state of Missouri detect COVID-19 from wastewater samples collected across the state.

March 12, 2021


Brian Consiglio: Since last summer, MU professors Marc Johnson and Chung-Ho Lin have collaborated with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in samples of wastewater from across Missouri. Johnson said it can help officials determine the amount of the virus present in a community.

Johnson: "You’re getting a read out of an entire community without any bias to who gets tested or who has health insurance or anything else, it’s just a really great way to get a reality check on what is really going on in a community in this pandemic."

Consiglio: The data that Johnson and Lin provide to public health officials can help inform potential virus mitigation strategies. Also, as new variants of the virus have begun to emerge, Johnson’s expertise as a virologist has helped identify variant strains of the virus as well.

Johnson: “More recently, we have switched to not only measuring how much virus is there, but recovering a portion of the genome and sequencing it so we can find out when and where new variants are starting to appear. These variants are turning out to be pretty important in how the pandemic is progressing.”

Consiglio: I’m Brian Consiglio, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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