CDPH and Discovery Partners Institute announce city-wide system to monitor COVID-19 in wastewater
CHICAGO — The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that the city-wide system to monitor the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants in wastewater will continue for two years, leveraging $ 2.14 million in federal funding. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is detectable in human waste almost at the onset of infection, while symptoms may not appear for three to five days – or for some, not at all.
DPI, which is part of the University of Illinois system, and the CDPH wastewater monitoring system to monitor SARS-CoV-2 were launched in October. The results are used – along with other public health surveillance data – to inform the City’s response to COVID-19, for example, by providing early alerts of a potential outbreak, or by helping the City to prioritize communities for COVID-19 testing or improved immunization services. This system does not identify people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it does allow the health department to monitor infection levels at the community or population level.
“The wastewater test is one of many systems that allow the CRPD to better understand the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants in Chicago,” said CRPD Commissioner Allison Arwady, MD. “This data system and others allow the CRPD to continue to focus our efforts on the communities that need it most. Getting vaccinated remains the number one way for Chicagoans to protect themselves against illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19. “
The program builds on two previous initiatives: DPI’s efforts to develop a statewide surveillance system for the Illinois Department of Public Health, and sewer surveillance in Chicago and the Cook County Jail and O’Hare International Airport, funded by the Walder Foundation.
“Initial grants from the Walder Foundation allowed us to design a sampling strategy that optimizes the monitoring of wastewater treatment plants and sewer manholes in Chicago,” said Bill Jackson, executive director of DPI. . “We are delighted that the city saw the value of our initial efforts and asked us to continue with full government funding. “
Samples will be analyzed at the University of Illinois-Chicago to identify SARS-CoV-2 and quantify SARS-CoV-2 in the samples. Samples will also be sequenced at the Argonne national laboratory to characterize the variants of SARS-CoV-2. Finally, the data will be analyzed and provided to the CDPH to support public health efforts.
The ambition of the Discovery Partners Institute is to propel Chicago into a preeminent and inclusive tech economy over the next decade. Led by the University of Illinois system in partnership with top research universities, it does three things: technology talent development, applied R&D, and business creation. DPI prepares diverse students and workers for high-demand technology jobs. It also sets up research teams and associates them with new funding. With investments from the state and a developing new innovation district, DPI has the resources to attract, develop and leverage the most ambitious people and businesses the region has to offer – and keep them here.