In what amounts to a rare stroke of good news for the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, scientists in Toronto have isolated what they call “the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.”
Research teams from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the University of Toronto and McMaster University collaborated in quick time to culture the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” from two clinical specimens.
The work was performed at an undisclosed Level 3 containment facility within Ontario.
“Researchers from these world-class institutions came together in a grassroots way to successfully isolate the virus in just a few short weeks,” said Dr. Rob Kozak, clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook and U of T, in a news release from the hospital on Thursday night.
“It demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when we collaborate.”
Thanks to the efficient work of these researchers, scientists around the world can now better understand SARS-CoV-2 biology, evolution and clinical shedding.
This will help researchers everywhere develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines.
“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic,” said Sunnybrook microbiologist and infectious diseases physician Dr. Samira Mubareka of the discovery.
“While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus.”
As of March 12, Canada’s federal government was reporting 138 confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus across the country.
The World Health Organization has registered 125,048 cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of its last update on Thursday with 4,613 confirmed deaths.