The United States is a vast country, and as COVID-19 is spreading, each state is reporting numbers of those tested, those being treated, and those who have lost their lives to this pandemic. There is a fear, shared among many health care professionals and politicians alike, that the spread of this pandemic may overwhelm the current U.S health care system that seems wholly unprepared to meet its demand. Items like masks and gloves for health care workers, respirators, and urgent care beds for patients are in short supply, and a vaccine is still months from being viable. However, there’s some positive news coming out of the State of Utah where physicists have been granted a research grant to study COVID-19, and understand the impacts of the novel coronavirus.
In Utah, as of recently, 78 people have tested positive for COVID-19, 68 of them being actual residents of the state. This number is reported after more than 1500 people have been tested throughout the state (though the number may be higher because some labs only report positive results). This number has jumped, with 15 new cases in a single day, and Salt Lake City and Summit County feeling significant impacts from this pandemic.
Researchers at the University of Utah will hopefully be able to help with mitigating this pandemic, with a grant that has been awarded to them to study the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). According to Michael Vershinin, assistant professor of physics at the University of Utah, as well as co-principal investigator on this grant, the goal of this research is not to create a vaccine for this virus or find a treatment, but to understand what “makes it tick” and to inform policy decisions moving forward.
Vershinnsays: “The idea is to figure out what makes this virus fall apart, what makes it tick, what makes it die.”
Together with another professor at the University of Utah, Saveez Saffarian, Vershinn has searched the fully-sequenced SARS-COV-2 genome, and have located the exact sequence genes that are responsible for the actual structural integrity of the virus. Their goal is to recreate the virus in a way that it won’t have the ability to replicate, or infect, or even spread. The goal is also to see how the virus reacts to changes in temperatures or humidity levels, which will allow an understanding of how it could be impacted by different seasons.
Vershinn also makes the point that: “viruses tend to lose their ability to infect people because they lose their structure in different environmental conditions.”
This research will help to inform actionable insights not just for this pandemic, but for those in the future, and hopefully help prevent or mitigate future disasters.
GrantWatch is committed to helping ensure that nonprofits have the proper information about grants that have been made available as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our team is consistently updating this list to reflect any updates available.
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