Principal investigators are required to submit a Biological Use Authorization (BUA) application and obtain approval from the IBC and EH&S before starting research activities involving SARS-CoV-2 virus. This includes work involving the SARS-CoV-2 virus or viral RNA, clinical samples suspected of containing SARS-CoV-2, and fixed or inactivated samples or tissues. See Biological Research Approval for more information and submission deadlines.
COVID-19 Research Biosafety
This guidance is intended to assist investigators planning research involving severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to understand the health and safety considerations and compliance expectations necessary to safely facilitate the research.
Biosafety requirements for COVID-19 research are based on determinations by the UW Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), the Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidelines for Biosafety and COVID-19, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidance for Research with SARS-CoV-2 and IBC Requirements Under the NIH Guidelines.
Required Biosafety Levels
The following are general biosafety level requirements which are subject to change as we learn more about SARS-CoV-2. Follow all EH&S and IBC requirements as communicated in your BUA Letter. Additional site-specific requirements may be required for certain facilities or shared laboratory spaces.
Summary of Required Biosafety Levels
|Sample or Specimen Type||Biosafety Level||Medical Counseling|
|Nucleic acids and fixed/inactivated SARS-CoV-2 samples or tissue||BSL-2||Required|
|Clinical specimens from COVID-19 patients||BSL-2 with enhancements||Required|
|SARS-CoV-2 in vitro and in vivo experiments||BSL-3||Required|
Biosafety Practices for Research with SARS-CoV-2
Occupational Health Requirements
Medical counseling is required before starting work with any SARS-CoV-2 samples or tissues, including fixed or inactivated samples or tissues. Researchers in the BSL-3 program working with SARS-CoV-2 are required to adhere to the requirements in the medical management plan.
The Principal Investigator or supervisor is required to review any occupational health recommendations or medical management plans with staff and must ensure that their staff contact the Employee Health Center for medical counseling prior to work. Occupational health information and medical management plans will be provided upon research approval.
In the event of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2, follow the steps on the Exposure Response Poster. Report all exposures and near misses via the Online Accident Reporting System (OARS). For researchers in the BSL-3 program, follow any additional program procedures for exposures and symptom development.