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University of Calgary researchers join fight against coronavirus

Last Updated Mar 6, 2020 at 12:30 pm MDT

The entrance to the University of Calgary (CREDIT: University of Calgary)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The federal government is pouring millions into coronavirus research and the University of Calgary is part of the plan.

Three teams from the school will receive $1.6 million to accelerate the development, testing and implementation of measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Byron Berenger with the university says things are moving quickly already.

“We were able to develop a test here at the Alberta provincial lab rapidly once the genome sequence of the virus was released. Within a week, we were able to develop a method using Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).”

Berenger said this method helped them find the genetic code for the virus which can help them develop tests, which could lead to the development of a vaccine.

He added this research plays a big role in identifying future viruses.

“You can go out somewhere where they don’t have access to lab testing or our rural sites where it takes a long time to transport to the lab. We try our best to get it here, but it just takes time to transport in our big country and province.”

News of the funding grant comes one day after Alberta reported its first case of COVID-19 in the Calgary zone.

WATCH: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Alberta.

The research will help doctors identify if a patient has caught the coronavirus either in the home or in the community.

With how quickly the virus is spreading, Myles Leslie with the School of Public Policy said getting the money towards this initiative was a fast process.

“We had exactly one week to write the grant. It was reviewed by peers across the country for another week. We’re getting funded today (Friday) and we’re starting work yesterday.”

The federal government is pledging a total of $27 million for 47 scientific and medical research teams across Canada including the one in Calgary.