A doctor in Seattle studying influenza hypothesized that the coronavirus had been spreading in Washington for days before anyone realized it, according to a New York Times report yesterday.
For weeks, states have raised concerns that there are not enough tests available, as international agencies like the World Health Organization warned that early testing and contact testing is paramount to halting the virus’ spread.
According to the Times, Dr. Helen Y. Chu and her team, without government approval, re-purposed tests for influenza to instead look for coronavirus. The study found a positive test from a teen with no travel history to any area where there had been an outbreak, showing the coronavirus was spreading in the community earlier than officials thought.
Early this morning, the Seattle Flu Study tweeted a statement by Lead Principal Investigator Dr. Jay Shendure:
“Our researchers are deeply dedicated to keeping our community safe. In the face of this unprecedented health threat, there are times when we have all felt the need to move fast in an effort to save lives. We are actively working and have had good cooperation with local, state, and national health authorities on the response to COVID-19.
Our team is productively collaborating with state regulators and has identified a path forward that will allow us to continue testing. This collaboration will be crucial to helping us overcome the current challenge and putting in place a strong foundation for the future.”