NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 has been detected in New Jersey, and one lab is doing its part to stay ahead of the curve and help patients.
Working within inches of infectious samples, scientists at a lab in Nutley have been peering into the pandemic in a way most of us can’t even fathom.READ MORE: New York City Public School Sports Teams May Allow Spectators
When asked by CBS2’s Jessica Layton what still scares her the most about COVID-19, lab worker Kaelee Composto said, “There still is potential for infection and there still are people getting sick and who are dying and some people tend to forget that.”
That’s something that’s never lost on those at Hackensack Meridian Health‘s Center for Discovery and Innovation, as COVID positive tests from hospitalized patients from across the state come in every day.
“Up until last week before we came up with a test to be able to detect that, we really had no way of directly knowing in a small period of time, is this patient infected with the delta variant? Now we do,” lab manager Jose Mediavilla said.
- New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX
- New York City book online here or call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Track NYC vaccinations by zip code
- Nassau County more info here
- Suffolk County more info here
- Westchester County more info here
- New Jersey book online here or call 1-855-568-0545
- Connecticut book online here
Mediavilla said the scientists at the lab have just come up with a new rapid analysis test that looks specifically for the dangerous Delta variant that devastated India, and is now in 49 U.S. states.
“Knowing what we’re dealing with is important for the patient. Secondarily, this tells us what’s circulating in the region,” said Dr. David Perlin, the lab’s chief scientific officer.
Perlin said it’s a game changer in local diagnostics, as the virus continues to evolve.READ MORE: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots Greenlighted By CDC
“Having this type of technology we can stay, what I like to call, one step behind the virus. At this point, this virus just does not quit and we shouldn’t believe that it will,” Perlin said.
The majority of the COVID samples coming into the lab still contain the Alpha variant. That’s the variant that was first detected in the UK. But more and more, Delta is on the rise.
“Two weeks ago, the prevalence in New Jersey was about 5% of all the samples tested. A week later, it was 15%. By the time we get done screening these swabs we are looking at here, 20-25%,” Mediavilla said.
- Ask CBS2’s Dr. Max Your Vaccine Questions
- COVID Vaccine FAQ From CDC
- Vaccination Sites In New York City | Call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Track NYC Vaccinations By Zip Code
- Find A New York City Testing Site Near You
- Check NYC Testing Wait Times
- Resources: Help With Unemployment, Hunger, Mental Health & More
- Remote Learning Tools For Students And Parents At Home
- Complete Coronavirus Coverage
Eventually, they believe it will become the dominant strain, which could cause a resurgence of COVID in the fall.
“As long as there’s enough people who are vulnerable, the virus is gonna find them,” research scientist Barry Kreiswirth said.
The most vulnerable, of course, are the unvaccinated. So these men and women with a front row seat to the ever-changing strains say accept the gift that science gave us — and get the shot.MORE NEWS: Mayor De Blasio Doubles Down On Municipal Workers Vaccine Mandate: 'We Have Contingency Plans In Place'
CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report