Sewage-handling robots help UCSD team predict coronavirus outbreaks in San Diego

From July to November, Karthikeyan and a team led by professor Rob Knight, director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UCSD, sampled sewage water to see if they could detect the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. They could. But concentrating the wastewater proved to be a slow and laborious multistep process.  To combat this, back in Knight’s lab at UCSD, the researchers began to process the sewage using their robotic platform.  According to Knight, the technique is faster, cheaper and more sensitive than other approaches to wastewater surveillance. The team is able to identify a single coronavirus case in a building of about 500 people.