So, the epidemic hit Sweden, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is causing trouble. And all of us at CPG agreed that we should help out wherever we could when we could, that this would be more important than any of our projects at the moment (in the middle of an epidemic that is, under any other circumstances our priority would be paleogenetics). But is there anything an ancient DNA laboratory can do in the middle of a virus epidemic? Over the latest two weeks we have seen that there is actually more than one would think.
Love packing up protective gear
The first obvious thing was to give up our surplus resources. The hospitals and testing facilities are now constantly low on gear such as tyvex suits, face masks, and gloves. And we had a stock. This was directly transferred to the hospitals as soon as they indicated that they needed it. But also, I have been in this field for more than a quarter of a century, and Love Dalén not much less. We have encountered every possible and impossible situation when we were low on gear, reagents, other types of problems. For example, before we got properly funded and was forced to work with duct tape and shoelaces, we still needed to work clean but we had to be creative on how to do that. Why we were now able to distribute equipment and protocols to local hospitals for cleaning disposable masks for reuse. Stuff like that. And also, as this thing happened so fast, and the response had to be fast too, it took some time before the whole laboratory chain set up to handle the outbreak worked smoothly. Why our familiarity with various parts of the laboratory community was a little bit useful at an early stage.
Me handing over a crosslinker and describing how to use it
With some reorganization and a tight control of gear and machinery, we are still able to keep a medium-low level of dataproduction going, even without the stuff we have donated and lended to the hospitals. And for our scientists who do home officing, we do have a lot to write up. Thus, as long as we are in the middle of this epidemic, we will continue to try to help out wherever we can be useful, and to do paleogenetics when it is not conflicting with our possibility to be useful to the nurses and doctors and microbiologists who are struggling to tame SARS-CoV-2. When all this is over we will be 100% on paleogenetics again. But for now, it does not feel bad to be able to help out at least a little bit with the crisis we are in.