Confronting the pandemic
When COVID-19 swept through New York City, the public’s cooperation in adhering to stay-at-home orders played a significant and widely heralded role in pulling the nation’s most-populated metropolis out of a harrowing public-health crisis.
What isn’t widely known, however, is the significant role played by approximately 200 volunteer scientists, who bravely mobilized and headed straight into some of the most hard-hit and under-served communities in NYC in an effort to increase testing and track the spread of the pandemic. The New York Biomedical Technician Rapid Response Team (BTRRT) is a coalition of volunteer professional scientists that uses its collective laboratory training skills to venture into “hot spot” neighborhoods to bring widespread and accessible community testing through the deployment of mobile medical units.
BTRRT performs both pooled PCR and serological tests (for the viral load and the presence of protective antibodies), taking saliva samples from groups of people who are quarantined together or were previously existing in close contact, such as families and employees who worked in close proximity. Samples are pooled into a single qPCR reaction to increase throughput of viral detection.
Integrated DNA Technologies recently donated 2019-nCoV CDC EUA Kits to BTRRT to bolster the testing efforts and capacity.
“IDT’s donation will see us all the way through our testing goals for the foreseeable future,” Singh said. “These kits are part of our primary COVID-19 testing assays, and we have been desperately short on this item until now.”