Northeastern’s COVID-19 Testing Is Identifying New Variants Faster Than Other Labs

When Northeastern began outlining its COVID-19 testing plan last spring, Jared Auclair, director of Northeastern’s testing lab, had a hunch: The university needed a monitoring system that could adapt to inevitable mutations of the virus in the future.

As the pandemic unfolded, viral mutations were top-of-mind for Auclair, whose background in drug resistance in HIV patients prepared him for the havoc mutations could wreak, disguising viruses in diagnostic tests and negating the effects of medication.

Considering these possibilities, Auclair helped Northeastern design a system that detects positive cases of COVID-19 by scanning for three of the virus’s genes, a more thorough system than most labs, which usually monitor for only one or two genes.

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