Kean University research lab tests for COVID-19 variants to get better understanding of virus

The latest COVID-19 concern among the public is the emergence of several variants of the virus. Kean University is already on top of it, conducting research into the new strains.
The concerns come as successful vaccination programs are easing some of the fear surrounding the pandemic.
“How do we react to situations where we have information, versus situations where we don’t?” asks Kean Clinical Diagnostic Lab Director Dr. Rob Pyatt.
Getting more information about the strains is why the Kean University COVID-19 Research Lab is now studying them. Pyatt says that his team is already working with Union County to test for COVID and now they are running a pilot program to detect mutations in positive cases.
“If you look across the country, there are multiple strains that we know are circulating. So yes, finding multiple strains in Union County wouldn’t be a surprise,” Pyatt says. “But we want to get an accurate picture of what strains are there.”
They will do this by using genome detection technology available to only a handful of United States research facilities. Results will provide important medical information about those variants to help the local and global communities make important health and safety decisions going forward.
“If you don’t have that information – and really if you don’t have any information at all – you can’t plan or act accordingly,” Pyatt says. “And what we want to do is take this fantastic technology that we have access to and use it to ask questions in this unique way.”
This variant genomic sequencing project is one of several research projects tied to Kean's federally certified COVID-19 laboratory.