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USU Awarded Grant To Fund COVID-19 Research

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State University has been awarded a $2.5 million research grant to aid in their efforts to find possible treatments for COVID-19.

The grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health.

The lab being used at the university has been used by several drug companies to help test products before they go out to the public.

Doctors said their research on the novel coronavirus has brought a sense of urgency to fight a virus that has affected so many people.

“It’s a little scary. I treat it with great respect,” said Dr. Bart Tarbet.

He said it’s somewhat unique, despite the fact that he’s been working against infectious diseases for about 25 years.

“I would say not to panic, but to definitely follow the instructions of our government leaders, of our public health officials. We’ve got to do what they say,” he said.

Tarbet and a team of about 40 researchers will take a close look at a wide variety of potential treatments.

“There is a lot that is unknown at this point, and I guess that’s what’s been kind of fascinating about this virus… how rapidly we’ve been finding out new information, and how much we’re all learning at the same time,” said Dr. Brett Hurst, an antiviral research assistant at the university.

It helps that they’ve worked on other coronaviruses before, like SARS and MERS. They said it’s still unknown whether past treatments will work against covid-19

“The project is very new, so really everything is on the table right now,” said Tarbet.

They’ll even look at hydroxychloroquine – the malaria drug that’s gotten a lot of press lately.

Their research was still in the very early stages.

“There’s such conflicting reports about things. We have to be very careful about where we’re getting our information from. Some people are saying chloroquine is being very effective. Others are saying it’s not,” said Tarbet.

Researchers will take a close look at how treatments affect animals, and then humans, with the hope that ultimately they can help more people recover.

Tarbet said research into COVID-19 could impact the upcoming flu season. This is the time of year when public health leaders usually focus on flu vaccines.

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