SARS-CoV2 detection in wastewater, effective early warning system

Monitoring of SARS-CoV2a in treatment plants would identify a new outbreak of COVID-19 before the health system itself. Ed. Flickr

To monitor the evolution of COVID-19, the key will be to detect and take action in future appearances. Therefore, scientists are developing epidemiological monitoring tools for virus.According to an article published by the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment, the analysis of water from sewerage can be an effective system to follow covid-19, since three days after the start of the infection the virus appears in the feces and urine and is easily detectable in purifiers.

Gorka Orive Arroyo, researcher at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the UPV/EHU, and Unax Lertxundi Etxeberria, pharmacist of Mental Health of Alava, are the main authors of the work. They consider that monitoring the treatment plants would identify a possible new virus outbreak before the health system itself.

Detection of viruses in low concentrations is, for the moment, the greatest difficulty. PCR is the trial that has begun to be used in virus purifiers, but new monitoring tools are already being developed that can be easier, cheaper and faster, such as biosensors and paper-based.

However, there are other aspects to investigate: for example, it is necessary to clarify how many viruses each individual releases in the feces and establish standardized and reliable protocols for the quantification of the virus.

Monitoring of viruses in wastewater has been successfully used with other viruses (hepatitis A, Poliovirus, Norobirusa…) and the authors consider that the implementation of sewage monitoring plans in wastewater treatment plants can be key to the control of new COVID-19 outbreaks. It has already been launched at the Krispijana water treatment plant near Vitoria-Gasteiz. However, according to the authors, the sewage detection system could also be implemented in micro areas, such as in the most rapidly extensible areas, especially in nursing homes.

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