Leading academic tackling the spread of coronavirus to headline the Alumni Day of Action

We are proud of our academics who are at the forefront of helping the fight against coronavirus and we are delighted that Professor David Graham will be joining us for our Alumni Day of Action on Saturday 10th October 2020 to share with you the research that he is undertaking. 

David Graham is a Professor of Ecosystems Engineering at Newcastle University and is currently involved in a £1million national research programme investigating ways to identify signs of COVID-19 through the analysis of sewage. It is hoped that sewage surveillance will provide a way to control the spread of the virus by acting as an early warning sign for detecting disease hotspots. This approach enables control measures to be put in place in specific areas where the outbreak has been narrowed down to. 

Although the virus is not easily spread through sewage and wastewater, non-infectious genetic residues of the virus can be traced in locations where infected people go to the toilet, even if they are asymptomatic. From a wastewater sample it is possible to determine how many people it came from and therefore it can be worked out how many of those within the sample have the virus. Scientists are investigating a way to perfect this test.

The research programme is being led by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) and is also in conjunction with researchers from the universities of Bangor, Bath, Edinburgh, Cranfield, Lancaster, Oxford and Sheffield, plus the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The scientist’s efforts have received national coverage, with the BBC News highlighting that “a sewage-based coronavirus test could be an “easy win” that would pick up infection spikes a week earlier than with existing medical-based tests.”

Source: Newcastle University

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