Since the early days of the pandemic, Professor Mark Servos and his team have been applying their knowledge of measuring water contamination to help public health officials understand the movement of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – within municipal wastewater.
On March 18, 2021, the provincial government recognized Servos’ contribution to the COVID-19 response. From Servos’ biology lab at the University of Waterloo, the Honourable Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks has announced $12 million in funding for wastewater testing.
Of this funding, more than $1 million will stay at UWaterloo with Servos’ lab, allowing them to continue monitoring the wastewater in more than 10 regions of Ontario, including Waterloo, Peel, and York regions.
“The University of Waterloo has been one of the pioneers in Ontario doing wastewater testing,” says Servos. “Since wastewater is a collective sample of an entire area, this approach provides a complimentary tool for regional public health units to identify influxes in COVID-19 cases.”
Servos explains that as the SARS-CoV-2 virus breaks down and degrades as it enters wastewater collection systems, where it is then possible to detect the virus fragments quantitatively.
Read more about wastewater testing, and some frequently asked question answers from Professor Servos on Waterloo News.
Congratulations to Professor Servos, his lab, and his collaborators for this funding!