Even as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife tested positive for COVID-19 and the country's markets posted their biggest one-day loss in history on Thursday, a team of Canadian researchers, including an Indian, said they have isolated the virus behind the global pandemic.
The isolation of the virus by researchers from Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, the University of Toronto and McMaster University in Waterloo raised hopes for a cure for COVID-19.
The researchers, including Indian-origin postdoctoral student Arinjay Banerjee, worked on samples taken from two patients. In a secure facility, they managed to isolate and propagate the virus, creating a source of COVID-19 for study as to how the virus behaves.
The isolation of the virus will help them to work on solutions to the pandemic, the researchers said.
Arinjay Banerjee, who is a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster University's Institute for Infectious Disease Research and specializes in coronaviruses and in bats, said: "Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork. The more viruses that are made available in this way, the more we can learn, collaborate and share."
Highlighting the significance of their work, Banerjee said: "You can't validate anything without a virus."
Ecstatic about his contribution to the pathbreaking research, Banerjee said he always told his friends, "When I grow up, I want to be a guy who gets called in if there's an outbreak."
He added, "What's happening with the outbreak is sad, but I'm glad I can contribute to the process of understanding this and controlling this outbreak."
Fellow researcher Dr Samira Mubareka, who is a microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook Hospital, said their team now needs key tools to develop solutions to the Coronavirus pandemic.
"While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus," she added.
Congratulating his co-researchers, Toronto University microbiologist Rob Kozak, said, "Researchers from these world-class institutions came together in a grassroots way to successfully isolate the virus in just a few short weeks."