Oregon State University researchers test wastewater for COVID, including Omicron | Local news


CORVALLIS, Ore. (KPTV) – Researchers in Oregon are tracking COVID and its variants, including Omicron, in wastewater.

It is an important tool to see how much virus is in our communities.

In an Oregon State University lab, scientists are working in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority to perform the tests.

Samples arrive twice a week from more than 40 sewage treatment plants across the state.

“What we do when we sequence viruses to determine if it’s Omicron or if it’s Alpha or Delta, what we’re looking for are just very specific gene sequences that are specific to this particular variant, ”Tyler Radniecki, associate professor of environmental engineering at OSU, said.

They have yet to detect the Omicron variant, although that will likely happen soon as there have already been several cases of the variant in Oregon.

Radniecki said they expect to see a pattern similar to what they saw with Delta.

“It would probably appear at a low level in a few communities and then we could see it spread both within that community and to neighboring communities statewide.”

He said the great advantage of this work is that it only takes a sample from one area to get an idea of ​​the prevalence of COVID and its variants: “In an age when only a fraction of clinical samples are ever sequenced, wastewater sequencing really gives you a big picture of what’s going on both at the community level as well as at the state level as a whole. “

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