Boston University Weekly COVID-19 Report: February 17 to 23

Boston University publishes its COVID-19 testing data on a public-facing dashboard. Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research, and Judy Platt, director of BU Student Health Services, provide a weekly update on the overall health of the BU community.

Between February 17 and 23, 70 students and 12 faculty and staff members tested positive for coronavirus at Boston University. Those positive samples of virus, if they contained an adequate amount of virus material, are now on their way to BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) for further analysis, part of BU’s new effort to study emerging COVID-19 variants.

By sequencing the genetic signature of each SARS-CoV-2 sample collected from someone at BU (the samples are anonymized before sequencing), BU researchers hope to explain exactly how mutated COVID-19 variants are influencing the global pandemic, and to arm BU’s coronavirus response and management teams with more information about what variants are circulating not only on campus, but in Greater Boston, as well.

In this special edition of BU’s weekly COVID-19 report, The Brink asked Gloria Waters and Judy Platt to explain why variant sequencing is important and whether it will impact people at BU.

Gloria Waters has spearheaded teams of BU scientists in their development and deployment of a campus-wide COVID-19 testing program and mathematical modeling of community behavior. Judy Platt, chair of BU’s Medical Advisory Group, oversees clinical management and isolation of students and employees who test positive for coronavirus, and helps manage BU’s contact tracing efforts. They are co-chairs of BU’s Vaccine Preparedness Group, which is overseeing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to BU by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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