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Case Study

Biobot Combats the Spread of COVID-19 by Rapidly Analyzing Public Wastewater

Biobot Provides U.S. Cities with Enhanced COVID-19 Mapping via Pro-Bono Wastewater Analysis; Program is a Collaboration Among Researchers at Biobot, MIT, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital

2-minute read
Biobot Combats the Spread of COVID-19 by Rapidly Analyzing Public Wastewater
 

Impetus

To enhance COVID-19 tracking and trending, Biobot Analytics is applying its technology to analyze biological data from sewers to help identify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. Due to limited COVID-19 patient testing, many public health officials do not have the data required to determine the scope of the outbreak, model the pandemic accurately, or respond based on severity.

Biobot’s wastewater analysis can help to increase modeling accuracy without direct interaction with an increasingly strained healthcare system. Biobot analysis provides communities with a dynamic virus map of pandemic changes such as the spread to new areas and a reduction in established hot-spots.

New studies show that SARS-CoV-2 is shed in stool, meaning it’s collecting in sewer systems. “Wastewater epidemiology can help to gauge the level of COVID-19 infection because a broad community or area can be tested rapidly,” said Newsha Ghaeli, Biobot Analytics co-founder and president. “And by identifying SARS-CoV-2 in asymptomatic individuals, Biobot can help public health officials plan more effectively.”

 

Insight

Through FORGE, Biobot selected Boston Engineering to enhance its product capabilities and design for manufacturability. In 2019, Boston Engineering enhanced Biobot product design and manufactured 12 prototypes. The Biobot product roadmap includes producing advanced prototypes and making additional enhancements for scalable manufacturing. “Working with Boston Engineering, through FORGE’s connection, has been transformative to our work,” said Mariana Matus, CEO and co-founder of Biobot Analytics.

 

Impact

Biobot Supports COVID-19 Epidemiology in Two Ways:

1)Biobot is establishing protocols to test sewage for SARS-CoV-2. Biobot, along with researchers at MIT, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, announced a program to map COVID-19 nationally. The researchers are providing the work pro bono; communities only need to cover sample kit and shipping costs ($120 per sample). Communities will collect and ship their samples to Biobot. Learn more about the program at https://www.biobot.io/covid19/.

2)Biobot has boosted its automated sampling to run for seven consecutive days. Expanding sampling from one day to seven, along with additional product ruggedization, builds on an earlier Biobot prototype used during a successful pilot with a North Carolina municipality to improve its understanding of community opioid use. To access product engineering and manufacturing support, Biobot contacted FORGE, a nonprofit organization established by Greentown Labs, the largest cleantech incubator in North America, to support product startups from initial prototyping and design through production.

 

 

 

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