Alberto Paniz Mondolfi, Venezuelan microbiologist from Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, led the research that would aid in a reliable opening of the public school system in the city: a new PCR method to detect coronavirus in saliva.
Besides being a more reliable and economical test, it is less uncomfortable for people, especially children. “Together with my team we have months in the lab developing a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in saliva, optimizing and standardizing it in such a way that it is not necessary to do nasopharyngeal or nasal swabs that are very uncomfortable for children, “he told the newspaper The National from Caracas.
“We did this with a lot tenacity, discipline and courage; and the best, at very low costs. But even though I should be happy I’m not, because I think I could have done it in my country (Venezuela). We could be opening schools now for children to go back to their classes. We could also be giving each Venezuelan the proof they deserve for their monitoring, but unfortunately Venezuela is not allowed ”, he added, referring to the government of Nicolás Maduro.
Paniz Mondolfi was one of the experts who discovered how the coronavirus attacks the brain. He also studied one of the virus mutations in Venezuela; In addition, he presides remotely the “Venezuelan Incubator of Science” and the Institute of Biomedical Research IDB. Is currently Assistant Professor of Pathology and Molecular and Cellular Medicine at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine.
Thirteen thousand New York students served as pilot for Paniz Mondolfi and his team to efficiently advance the development of PCR in saliva. The new test does not exceed $ 30, unlike the other $ 75-200 exams.
What’s more, The study also served to verify that the infection rate in the city’s public and private schools is very low (0.4%). “Children were believed to be an epicenter of community transmission, but this was found to be false. Our findings demolish the myth that schools serve as amplifiers of community transmission “, indicated the doctor, who was reviewed last September by The New York Times Y this month again.
The project, led by the Venezuelan scientist, originated in December 2020, when William A. Ackman, director of the Pershing Square Foundation, awarded $ 20 million to Mount Sinai Hospital to build a laboratory that could process up to 100,000 thousand coronavirus tests per day in order to find a way to get the children back to school as soon as possible.
Until then, PCR and antigen detection tests had focused on the nasopharyngeal mucosa sample, introducing a swab through the nose. Saliva PCR results take the same time, and while lab work is the same, ease and comfort favor the patient. Mount Sinai submitted the data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in hopes of receiving emergency mass use authorization for the test.
Last Monday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city was planning fully reopen schools in September, eliminating remote classes, fundamental step for “the return to normality”.
Mount Sinai Health System, which is preparing to open a new laboratory that could process 100,000 tests a day, wants to take its program to public schools this fall. https://t.co/qc8MGlSTW7
– NYT Metro (@NYTMetro) May 25, 2021
I just got this picture. Me in New York, my student @carloseduardohp in Venezuela. Couldn’t feel more proud. The future of Venezuela is intact. Pipetting hope and liberty. Please follow the work of my students @incubadorave So proud! pic.twitter.com/WUIxAeit60
– Alberto Paniz Mondolfi (@Betopaniz) May 27, 2021
– The National (@ElNacionalWeb) May 27, 2021
– Venezuelan Incubator of Science (@incubadorave) September 11, 2020
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.