Researchers to Develop Paper-Based Device to Detect Coronavirus in Wastewater

Paper-based device to soon detect COVID-19 in sewage

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coronavirus
Researchers are working on a new paper-based device that can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) within the wastewater of communities infected with the virus. Pixabay

Researchers are working on a new paper-based device that can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) within the wastewater of communities infected with the virus.

According to the study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, rapid testing kits using paper-based devices could be used on-site at wastewater treatment plants to trace sources and determine whether there are potential COVID-19 carriers in local areas.

The wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) approach could provide an effective and rapid way to predict the potential spread of COVID-19 by picking up on biomarkers in feces and urine from disease carriers that enter the sewer system.

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“In the case of asymptomatic infections in the community or when people are not sure whether they are infected or not, real-time community sewage detection through paper analytical devices could determine whether there are COVID-19 carriers in an area to enable rapid screening, quarantine and prevention,” explained researcher Dr Zhugen Yang, Professor at Cranfield University in the UK.

WBE is already recognised as an effective way to trace illicit drugs and obtain information on health, disease and pathogens.

coronavirus
The wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) approach could provide an effective and rapid way to predict the potential spread of coronavirus. Pixabay

Dr Yang has developed a similar paper-based device to successfully conduct tests for rapid veterinary diagnosis in India and for malaria in blood among rural populations in Uganda.

Recent studies have shown that live SARS-CoV-2 can be isolated from the faeces and urine of infected people and the virus can typically survive for up to several days in an appropriate environment after exiting the human body.

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According to the researchers, the paper device is folded and unfolded in steps to filter the nucleic acids of pathogens from wastewater samples, then a biochemical reaction with preloaded reagents detects whether the nucleic acid of SARS-CoV-2 infection is present.

Results are visible to the naked eye: a green circle indicating positive and a blue circle negative.

“We have already developed a paper device for testing genetic material in wastewater for proof-of-concept, and this provides clear potential to test for infection with adaption,” said Dr Yang.

Also Read- Battling Hunger Crisis Along with Coronavirus

“We foresee that the device will be able to offer a complete and immediate picture of population health once this sensor can be deployed in the near future,” Yang added.

Paper analytical devices are easy to stack, store and transport because they are thin and lightweight, and can also be incinerated after use, reducing the risk of further contamination, the study noted. (IANS)

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COVID ‘Just the Tip of The Iceberg’ Warns Virologist known as ‘Bat Woman’

Top Chinese virologist, has warned that new viruses being discovered are "actually just the tip of the iceberg"

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Coronavirus
COVID is only the beginning says virologist. Pixabay

A top virologist from China, famous for her work on researching coronavirus in bats, has warned that new viruses being discovered are “actually just the tip of the iceberg”. In an interview on Chinese state television, Shi Zhengli, known as the ‘Bat Woman’ for her research about bats and the viruses associated with them, also called for greater international cooperation in the fight against epidemics such as Covid-19.

Zhengli, the Deputy Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said research undertaken in viruses needs governments and scientists to be transparent with their findings, and cooperative, reports dailymail.co.uk.

She also said that it is ‘very regrettable’ when science is politicised. Speaking to Chinese state television CCTN, Zhengli said: “The unknown viruses that we have discovered are actually just the tip of the iceberg. If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings,” Zhengli was quoted as saying to CCTN.

Coronavirus
COVID and other viruses need more research says an expert. Pixabay

“If we don’t study them, there will possibly be another outbreak,” she added.

Also Read: Scientists Identify 29 New Genes Linked To Drinking Problems

Her interview comes after, both US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have suggested that the Covid-19 originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic erupted last December last month. Earlier, Zhengli had also said that even after the world finds a way to combat the virus responsible for Covid-19, it should prepare for more outbreaks caused by bat-borne coronaviruses. (IANS)

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McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

McDonald's reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week

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McDonald's
McDonald's plans to open more number of UK branches. Pixabay

Fast-food giant McDonald’s revealed a plan to open all of its drive-thru restaurants in the UK in the coming weeks and has”not forgotten” about people in the north of England, it was reported on Monday to World and International News.

The company reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week as it prepared to get back up and running with new safety measures in place, but all of the English locations were in the south east, reports the Metro nwespaper.

In a message to customers, McDonald’s Chief Executive Paul Pomroy said: “To help us test the new procedures and to slowly restart our supply chain, the pilot restaurants in the UK are all located close to our head office and to one of our distribution centres in the south east.

“I promise I have not forgotten about any part of the UK or Ireland. We are taking our time to test the new ways of working in our restaurants, ensuring that we can continue to help our teams to work safely, and to get back to the communities we have proudly served for so many years.”

Pomroy further said that McDonald’s will make a further announcement this week about reopening more restaurants and expanding its delivery service.

McDonald's
The workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, McDonald’s has said. Pixabay

Last week, Police were called to a drive-thru McDonald’s in Peterborough on the first day it reopened after easing of the COVID-19 lockdown because the queue at the outlet went out of hand.

Also Read: COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Six of the 30 new drive-thrus that have opened across the country were in Peterborough.

The fast-food giant has brought in social distancing measures to keep workers safe, with staff receiving temperature checks before each shift.

The number of workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, the company has said. (IANS)

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COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Vaccination Programes have been disrupted because of the restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

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Vaccination
A health worker injects a man with Ebola vaccine in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Aug. 5, 2019. VOA

Nearly 80 million children under age 1 are at higher risk of preventable diseases such as measles, cholera and polio because of the disruption of routine vaccination programs, according to a report released Friday by the World Health Organization and other global organizations.

Immunization campaigns have been disrupted in half of the 129 countries surveyed around the world in March and April, according to data produced by the WHO, UNICEF, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Of the 68 countries, 27 have suspended their measles initiatives. Thirty-eight countries have suspended campaigns to vaccinate children against polio.

The COVID-19 pandemic is “walking back progress” that was made in vaccinating children around the world, putting children and their families at greater risk of diseases that routine vaccinations can prevent, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said.

“More children in more countries are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history,” Berkley said in a statement. “Due to COVID-19, this immense progress is now under threat, risking the resurgence of diseases like measles and polio. Not only will maintaining immunization programs prevent more outbreaks, but it will also ensure we have the infrastructure we need to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.”

vaccination
Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.VOA

Fearing doctor visits

Routine immunization has been hindered for many reasons.

Some parents are no longer taking their children to clinics and hospitals out of fear of exposure to the virus, while others are unable to do so because of lockdowns.

The delivery of vaccines and required protective equipment has been delayed in many countries because of a cutback in commercial flights and chartered plane availability.

Health care workers also have been relocated to help fight the pandemic, leaving fewer to administer vaccinations.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that to combat this decline in immunizations, countries need to intensify efforts to find and track unvaccinated children, address gaps in delivery and develop innovative solutions.

The consequences if countries are unable to give routine immunizations, “can be deadly,” Fore said.

Also Read: National Capital Delhi Makes a Gradual Comeback

Experts are concerned that deaths from normally preventable diseases could surpass coronavirus deaths if vaccination efforts are not reinstated.

Berkley, of Gavi, requested $7.4 billion for vaccination efforts over the next five years.

Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.

Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said inoculation efforts should be viewed as a “global public good” because “pathogens do not recognize borders,” and if one country is at risk of an outbreak, all countries are at risk. (VOA)