The Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research (WCMR) is coordinating a campus project screening for COVID using saliva. Professors Trevor Charles and Jozef Nissimov from the Department of Biology, alongside Drs. Patricia Quadros and Carly Huitema of the WCMR have been awarded $120,000 to determine the effectiveness of a new rapid test and help prevent outbreaks on campus.
In contrast to the nasopharyngeal swab, saliva collected from by spitting in a tube can be used instead. Multiple studies have shown that PCR testing of saliva samples is as effective as PCR testing of nasopharyngeal swab samples, but with easier collection. Viruses of any positive samples can be sequenced to help in the tracking of Variants of Concern (VoC).
"As the vaccination rate continues to increase, with perhaps reduced incidence of symptomatic infections, it will be even more important to detect those asymptomatic infections that might still contribute to COVID spread and even outbreaks,” says Charles. “Furthermore, the genome sequencing could facilitate the identification of known variants and the discovery of new variants that are circulating."
More information, including how to participant, is available at the ASTRAW webpage.
This project was funded through a Waterloo Strategic COVID-19 Research Award from University of Waterloo Office of Research.