GLOBAL HEALTH when everyone is understaffed . It really improved our workload .”
Not only was the process easier , but the results were better than ever . Using the Maxwell ® , they found that they were able to extract much more of the virus from each sample . The extraction efficiency increased almost tenfold , from 5 – 7 % to 50 – 70 %. The automated process also eliminated chances for human errors , giving highly reproducible results .
Lab Design Matters !
By Warren J . Hendrickson , AIA , LEED AP , BD + C , public health director , HDR ; Lucy Maryogo- Robinson , MPH , director , Global Health and Maria M . Landron , DrPH , senior specialist , Global Health
Preparing for the Next Steps
The data that Slipko ’ s team generate is key to monitoring and predicting COVID-19 outbreaks in Vienna . When they first began testing smaller wastewater treatment plants around Vienna , they couldn ’ t detect any SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA . However , as the virus spread over time , they could see the viral RNA gradually increase . Their data correlated with the number of people being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the city . In many instances , they were able to predict a rise in cases up to a week before they were confirmed .
“ We can really predict what is going to happen — if the cases will rise or be stable ,” Slipko said . “ With lockdowns , we can see a plateau in the curve and cases slowly going down . That tells us it is safe to reopen .”
The next challenge for Slipko and others is to try to correlate the amount of SARS-CoV-2 RNA with the actual number of people that are infected . She won ’ t have to figure it out alone , though . Researchers around the world are collaborating , sharing data and methods on wastewater testing for COVID-19 .
“ So many people switched to COVID research this year ,” she says . “ It ’ s amazing to see how everyone joined forces and worked together to deal with the situation .” n
Promega is a Gold Sustaining Member of APHL .
Alabama Public Health Laboratory . Photo : HDR © Chris Luker
Recently , many state public health laboratories have been considering expanding their facilities to increase capacity , or renovating them to improve the capability of their laboratories . With funding becoming available to support this , some laboratories are starting to plan more seriously for these activities . Lab design matters , and so does a holistic planning approach involving multiple stakeholders ( e . g ., architects , engineers , laboratory director , laboratory technical and administration staff , maintenance and facilities staff , safety staff , etc .).
APHL , together with key sustaining members , have developed Lab Design Matters , a series of training modules to provide an awareness-level experience to those interested in a pursuing a laboratory renovation or construction project . The training targets a wide variety of audiences , including all the abovementioned stakeholders and is based on APHL ’ s Laboratory Facility Construction and Major Renovations Guidelines
As state public health laboratories continue to face the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic , it is becoming clearer that infrastructure in public health laboratories may be a challenge too . For example , certain techniques may require access to a Biosafety Level 3 ( BSL-3 ) laboratory , which some laboratories do not currently have . In the near future , APHL plans to distribute a brief questionnaire to state public health laboratory directors to identify common themes and interests related to their upcoming construction or renovation plans . This information will allow APHL and involved members to provide more targeted sessions in the next Lab Design Matters training series . APHL also plans on delivering the Lab Design Matters series for an international audience later this year . n