FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Scientists in Arizona are working to develop a test for the coronavirus that could be used for hospitals and doctors across the country.
Right now, the Centers for Disease Control is the only one who can test patients for the coronavirus across the country.
As of Tuesday, the CDC had done 260 total tests, with 11 positive cases and 82 pending. The rest of the results were negative.
TGen North in Flagstaff has a group of scientists working to map out the DNA for the new strain of coronavirus from Wuhan, China.
To understand how this works, viruses like coronavirus have DNA just like humans — and, the coronavirus has more than 20,000 letters that have to be coded.
The scientists use advanced technology and computers to help them map out the blueprint to learn more about this specific new strain.
“That genetic code tells us everything we need to know,” said Dr. David Engelthaler, “It tells us all the secrets to that organism, it tells us is it changing, it tells us hows that virus is able to get inside human cells.”
As of now, with any suspected case of coronavirus, samples are sent to the CDC for testing. But Engelthaler told ABC15 if cases get into the hundreds or more, it could be hard for the CDC to do the only testing.
TGen North and other scientists across the country are working to code and find the correct strain to create a test that could be implemented within the medical community.
Researchers at TGen North have studied similar viruses, both SARS and MERS, which are also strains of the coronaviruses. The scientists there also helped create tests for those viruses as well.
This new strain of coronavirus appears to be similar to SARS and they both link back to animals. Scientists believe the strains could be linked to bats.
It’s unclear when exactly this test could become available, and approved.
“When it’s an emergency like this, they try to shorten it down to months, and maybe even weeks to get the approval process at the FDA,” said Dr. Engelthaler.
Coronavirus is spread like the common cold, so sneezing and coughing can help spread it. It’s also the same with how to treat, if diagnosed with coronavirus, it should be treated similar to the common cold as well.