Indian-origin postdoctoral researcher Arinjay Banerjee was part of a team of Canadian scientists that managed to isolate the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19 that has infected more than 200,000 globally.
Mr Banerjee is a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster University, with research interests in innate immunology, virology, emerging infections, molecular biology, among others.
He was part of the team from the Sunnybrook Research Institute, the University of Toronto, and McMaster University, which was able to culture the virus from two clinical specimens in a Level 3 containment facility, as per a release by the Sunnybrook Research Institute.
“Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork,” Banerjee said. “The more viruses that are made available in this way, the more we can learn, collaborate and share.”
The achievement will help researchers in Canada and across the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, and vaccines, and gain a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 biology, evolution and clinical shedding.
“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic. While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus,” said Dr Samira Mubareka, microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook.
Across the world, the virus has infected more than 207,000 people in 166 countries and killed 8,657, as per the latest data available on the World Health Organisation website.