'Significantly higher than expected' traces of coronavirus discovered in Massachusetts wastewater: Study

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"Significantly higher than expected" traces of coronavirus have been discovered in Massachusetts wastewater according to a new study, suggesting there may be many more people who are going undiagnosed than previously believed.

The research, published on the medRxiv database, was conducted by biotech company Biobot Analytics "at a major urban treatment facility" in The Bay State from March 18-25. The research did not say where the facility was located.

"Viral titers observed were significantly higher than expected based on clinically confirmed cases in Massachusetts as of March 25," researchers wrote in the study's abstract.

Sections of the city, like the North End, that are usually packed with tourists are empty due to the effects on the travel industry of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Boston, Massachusetts on March 12, 2020. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Sections of the city, like the North End, that are usually packed with tourists are empty due to the effects on the travel industry of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Boston, Massachusetts on March 12, 2020. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

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The study has not yet been reviewed.

Although the reason for the discrepancy is "not yet clear," as more research is needed, the researchers added their approach is "scalable and may be useful in modeling the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and future outbreaks."

In an interview with health-website Stat News, one of the study's authors, Mariana Matus, said the data was shared with the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“They could believe that [our] numbers could be correct and not out of the realm of possibility," Matus, who is also the CEO and co-founder of Biobot, told the news outlet.

Massachusetts has been one of the hardest-hit states in the U.S., with 18,941 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Friday morning, fifth in the nation behind New York, New Jersey, Michigan and California. At least 503 people have died in the state as a result of the pandemic.

Fox News has reached out to Matus with a request for comment for this story.

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Currently, there is no known scientific cure for the disease known as COVID-19 that is ravaging the globe. There are, however, a multitude of different attempts to treat it, including various vaccines in different stages of testing.

As of Friday morning, more than 1.61 million coronavirus cases had been diagnosed worldwide, including more than 466,000 in the U.S., the most impacted country in the world.

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