Saginaw Valley State University professor of chemistry Tami Sivy and her students are on the front lines of what the university calls groundbreaking research on early detection of COVID-19 by studying wastewater. Sivy and her students are rapidly adapting their current freshwater contamination testing methods to test for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in order to identify virus hot spots before they can be detected by other testing methods.
The university said this innovative approach to early detection is critical, as it can detect viral material that came from people with and without symptoms. “It’s known that the virus is excreted in human waste, so we are collecting human wastewater samples from various wastewater treatment plants in the Saginaw Bay Watershed,” said Sivy. “It’s a great way to test for the spread of the virus. If we can detect it in wastewater — even if there’s not many people testing positive in a region — we can better see what the levels are, and we can potentially detect hot spots and spread before it’s even being detected by symptoms in humans.”
Here is a video interview in which Tami Sivy discusses SVSU’s COVID-19 research using wastewater samples: