Colin Young of the State House News Service reported today that the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority board last week approved a six-month, $200,000 contract with Biobot Analytics, a startup founded by MIT graduates and faculty, to collect and test samples of wastewater arriving at two different intakes at Deer Island and to conduct rapid analysis for signs of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Analysis of wastewater for the genetic signal (viral RNA) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is proving to be a cost effective approach to providing population level screening for outbreaks of COVID-19,” MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey wrote to the board in a memo.
The partnership between MWRA and Biobot that began in early March has continued, and the authority said in a presentation to board members last week that raw data from Deer Island collected the week of June 15 “shows continued downward trend” in the prevalence of the coronavirus.
While it might be interesting to note the decrease in detectable virus in fecal matter sent to a wastewater processing system, if the goal has always been to use monitoring methods and such to “flatten the curve” to not overwhelm hospitals, what’s the point of toasting away $200K? Hospitals in the state and across the nation were never overwhelmed. Hospital ships, convention center field hospitals, all at the cost of millions to setup up, were all recalled, as they were never needed.