Omicron is so scary that The Science has to dig into people’s poop to know if they have the disease.
As the United States continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, scientists have been testing the nation’s wastewater to conduct early detection of the virus. In the past week, a team of researchers in California announced they had found traces of the variant in sewage treatment facilities across the state – suggesting that Omicron is already present in multiple cities.
The team from the Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network (SCAN), a collaboration between city officials and scientists at universities including Stanford, found that wastewater in Sacramento and Merced contained evidence of the Omicron variant.
“This is certainly suggestive – even though we haven’t had any clinical cases reported in those counties yet – that there is the virus circulating there,” Dr Erica Pan, the California state epidemiologist, said in a presentation earlier this week to the California Medical Association. “We definitely are seeing Omicron across the state,” she added.
The first confirmed case of Omicron in California was found last week and authorities across the country are concerned that the new variant could spread widely in the US as it has in countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom. Multiple countries and US states have turned to wastewater testing as an early gauge of whether the variant is present in communities.
Fruit juice makes the testing produce false positives, but a mix of poop, urine, soap, shampoo, estrogen, drugs, and who knows what else works just fine.