This father-and-son team tested if groceries can spread COVID-19

By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Remember this time last year when everyone was wiping down their fruits and vegetables after getting back from the grocery store? A curious Chester County middle schooler questioned that method and published his first scientific study.

13-year-old Anand Shah is a student at Charles F. Patton Middle School. Both of his parents are microbiologists.

So when he asked his dad if all this cleaning is necessary after a trip to the grocery store, he responded with, "Why don't you check it out yourself?"

"As a curious eighth grader, he goes to the CDC website, WHO website and every one, it said there is no evidence that it spreads and there is no data that shows it spreads," said his father, Dr. Vishal Shah.

The two decided to do their own study.

"We went to the grocery store, 10 grocery stores, 140 different types of fruits and vegetables, but the key here was grocery bags, because grocery bags were the control."

Shah, an associate dean at West Chester University, recently joined the KYW Newsradio In Depth podcast to break down the results.

"From the 130 in which we got the results, only one sample was positive, only one," he said. "All the controls came back negative. Which implies that on the surfaces of fruits and veggies that we find in grocery stores, there is almost insignificant chance of SARS-CoV-2 to be present."

He said as a scientist, he's happy to be proven wrong when it's something good. And as a father he's proud and ready for the next experiment with his teenager, who got to publish his first scientific research.

"The best compliment he received was this is one of the simplest studies but one of the most impactful studies the scientists had seen," said Shah.

"That, I think, is the biggest compliment he has seen from the scientific community is that you don't need to design complex scientific experiments that go on for years to prove something. Sometimes it can be very simple but it can still be impactful."

Next up, Shah said, is checking out other aisles of the grocery store to see if COVID-19 sticks there.

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