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SFO Testing Wastewater From International Flights for COVID-19 Variants

San Francisco International Airport recently became the first U.S. airport to test wastewater from international passengers for COVID-19 variants.

The goal is to find out how COVID-19 is moving around the world and what can be done about it.

“Now, what it’s more focused on is informing future vaccination development, and if we’re gonna get an annual booster, what is the best cocktail if you will, what is the best combination?” said Doug Yakel, SFO spokesperson.

From the plane, the wastewater is taken to a lab run by a division of Ginkgo Bioworks of Boston. It’s then tested for COVID-19.

“Ideally giving us, you know, early warning not just of what’s in the United States, but what may be moving around the globe and what may be coming here,” said Andrew Franklin of Ginkgo Bioworks.

The process is similar to what counties do when they test wastewater but on a much wider level.

“When we zoom out, the airport and air travel in general becomes really interesting,” Franklin said. “It allows us to see what’s coming into the country, so it gives us a more global perspective.”

The CDC said international travel is among the most effective ways to monitor variants, trying to detect them before outbreaks can spread from country to country.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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