Massachusetts based AI startup identifies COVID-19 through your poop

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The world has one common enemy to fight and that enemy is not a terrorist organization, a nation or a person, it is a virus instead that has threatened the livelihood of the people across the globe and brought an economic crisis, an economic crisis much worse than the Great Recession of 2008-09 as declared by the IMF. With the world facing a crisis which has made people stay at home. I would like to request all of you reading this article and other of our blog posts to contribute to the World’s fight against the pandemic in some way, be it monetary, research purpose or your own idea to defeat COVID-19 based on your education or skill that can help fight the pandemic like the MIT based AI startup, named Biobot Analytics has started a new initiative to identify COVID-19 through the fecal matter of human beings.

Biobot Analytics is a wastewater company that was started in 2017 by Mariana Matus and Newsha Ghaeli, with their pilot project involving the study of Opioid addiction by testing the sewers of a municipality. Firstly, they did the basic data sciences and analytics to identify the best place to sample wastewater in the city without hindering the privacy of the residents. The data of the sewers was collected by putting sampling devices in the sewer holes and later that data were analyzed using liquid chromatography(a technique used for separation of mixtures) and then applying AI-based analytics or Data Sciences to classify whether the people are addicted to Opioid or not.

The pandemic is growing every day and is a big threat to the entire world. A lot of research and studies are going on around the world to defeat COVID-19. A recent report by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 is found in the feces and can spread through the fecal matter (so, it is advised for people to stay away from the sewage area). 

Biobot Analytics has collaborated with researchers at MIT, Harvard, and Birmingham & Women’s Hospital to bring out fruitful results. The deadliest of the stage for COVID-19 is the community spread, which countries like Italy, the USA are currently experiencing. So, one full community can be tested whether the virus is present in the community or not. With the virus spreading rapidly, the testing to people is limited, this kind of community testing will be a lot more helpful in the coming days. 

Source: Forbes

This is how the project works:-

  • Cities or state’s health officials sign up for the service using a form that is available on the given link biobot.io/covid19/
  • Biobot analytics then sends a sampling to the city/state wastewater treatment plant.
  • Wastewater facilities will collect 24-hour composite samples and give the samples to Biobot and MIT for testing and processing in their labs.
  • The test results will be mapped and then Data Science and AI will be used to predict where the virus can spread.

As of now, the work is going pro bono, i.e Biobot, MIT, and Harvard are asking the communities to cover the costs of the sampling kits which are shipped back after being collected for testing. 

With the virus spreading rapidly, this project is innovative and if executed at a large scale can help test a community and reduce a lot of casualties to happen if the community is alerted beforehand. 

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