Water treatment plant in Greenville Co. working towards testing for omicron variant

Local News

GREENVILLE CO. (WSPA)- A water treatment plant in Greenville Co. is working to find a way to test the omicron variant.

ReWa collects wastewater from residents in the county and sends off samples to test for COVID variants. They say they use the results to determine where the community stands with the virus.

ReWa has been collecting samples to test for COVID for the past year and a half. Now, they want to be able to detect the new omicron variant.

“Our partner lab, Bio Bot, is currently working with their research and development platform to determine if they can isolate this genetic sequence, to tell us if omicron, what percentage of the contribution to the virus concentration there is,” said Cameron Colby, Water Quality and Sustainability Leader at ReWa.

Colby said they don’t currently have the capability to this testing. She said some major setbacks are the lab getting funds and making sure their waste samples don’t decompose.

“Identifying a sequence of RNA that is not going to decompose, or is stable in wastewater, that can also tell us which type of SARS-COV-2 variant we have, is a very challenging endeavor,” said Colby.

Colby said even without being able to detect omicron, their data shows the extent of COVID-19 in the community.

“We just went through our third peak, attributable to the delta variant. We’re seeing a pretty consistent, albeit slow, downward trend in our weekly average of data,” she said.

She doesn’t believe they have seen the omicron effect in Greenville.

“Any big departure has traditionally been indicative of a new variant strain that’s come into play. We have not yet seen an uptick departure from our trend, in fact, we are seeing a downward trend in our concentrations,” said Colby.

Colby said they will continue to look at the data and work toward their goal of detecting omicron.

She said the trends are still showing transmission and infection within the community, but it’s lower than it’s been recent months. She said they’re also comparing their results with Clemson and pushing to have data publicly available on their website.

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