How wastewater can help scientists track new COVID-19 variants
As the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate into variant strains, there remains the potential for widespread outbreaks of new forms of the deadly disease. One way in which emerging variants might be detected is the advanced wastewater testing techniques that have been developed in recent years by scientists and engineers, including Fulton Schools Professor Rolf Halden and his research team at ASU’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering. These techniques can extract the genetic blueprint of the coronavirus from water in waste treatment facilities, enabling researchers to put together a picture of the prevalence of the virus in local communities. Public agencies and health organizations could then be alerted to deploy resources to track the virus and take actions to protect people in the area from the disease.