Environmental surveillance as a part of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) of SARS-CoV-2 can provide an early, cost-effective, unbiased community-level indicator of circulating COVID-19 in a population. The objective of this study was to determine how widely SARS-CoV-2 detection in wastewater is being investigated and what methods are used. A survey was developed and distributed, with results showing that methods were rapidly applied to conduct SARS-CoV-2 WBE, primarily to test wastewater influent from large urban wastewater treatment plants. Click here to read more about the outcome of this survey.
In response to COVID-19, the international water community rapidly developed methods to quantify the SARS-CoV-2 genetic signal in untreated wastewater. Wastewater surveillance using such methods has the potential to complement clinical testing in assessing community health. This interlaboratory assessment evaluated the reproducibility and sensitivity of 36 standard operating procedures (SOPs), divided into eight method groups based on sample concentration approach and whether solids were removed. Click here to learn about the outcome this novel study.
Ozone disinfection has demonstrated high efficacy against enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, including viruses similar in morphology to SARS-CoV-2. Due to this efficacy, numerous gaseous and aqueous phase ozone applications have emerged to potentially inhibit virus persistence in aerosols, surfaces, and water. This review identifies the exposure requirements for virus inactivation and important safety considerations for applications within the built environment (i.e. occupied/unoccupied spaces, air/water/wastewater treatment) and healthcare settings (i.e. ozone therapy, dentistry, handwashing, treatment of personal protection equipment (PPE)). Current research needs are presented to advance the utilization of ozone as a mitigation strategy.
The shedding of pathogens by infected humans enables the use of sewage monitoring to conduct wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). Although most WBE studies use data from large sewage treatment plants, timely data from smaller catchments is needed for any targeted public health action. Traditional sampling methods, like autosamplers or grab sampling, are not conducive to quick ad hoc deployments and high-resolution monitoring at these smaller scales. This study develops and validates a cheap and easily deployable passive sampler unit, made from readily available consumables, with relevance to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic but with broader use for WBE. This study provides the first evidence that passive samplers can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, demonstrating their ability at three different scales (lot, suburb and city).
Numerous wastewater surveillance studies subsequently confirmed detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater and wastewater-associated solids/sludge. However, the methods employed in early studies vary widely so it is unclear whether differences in reported concentrations reflect true differences in epidemiological conditions, or are instead driven by methodological artifacts. This study aimed to compare the performance of virus recovery and detection methods, detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in two Southern Nevada sewersheds from March–May 2020, and better understand the potential link between COVID-19 incidence/prevalence and wastewater concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 RNA.
“This review provides new insights into the primary concentration methods that have been adopted by the eighteen recently reported COVID-19 wastewater detection studies, along with a brief discussion of the mechanisms of the most commonly used virus concentration methods, including the PEG-based separation, electrostatically charged membrane filtration, and ultrafiltration”: continue reading.
The authors’ “critical analysis of the available evidence and potential transmission
routes suggests that the possibility of fecal/urine-oral/ocular transmission
of SARS-CoV-2 is extremely low to negligible except where
direct person-to-person contact occurs. This is consistent with the
many millions of documented cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and the
fact that none of these have implicated feces or fecal contaminated material
as part of the infection pathway. Assuming levels of
SARS-CoV-2 remain relatively low in the population (<1%), our analysis
also suggests that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from water supplies,
wastewater, food, bathing/recreational waters, and the coastal zone remains
extremely low. This is particularly the case if personal hygiene
measures are maintained (e.g. handwashing) and communal sanitary
facilities are regularly cleaned and disinfected”: Read the article here.
“This review aims at identifying the main issues for consideration, relating to the development of validated methodological protocols for the virus quantitative analysis in wastewater”. However, connecting environmental monitoring to clinical monitoring, and involvement of Health departments/authorities require further investigation for successful integration of sewage monitoring into pandemic response plan.
This report summarizes the findings of the Rapid expert consultation on environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater that was organized by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health on 23 July 2020 in a virtual format. It aimed to facilitate a rapid exchange of current knowledge, experience and practices among countries that are in the forefront of research and environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. Such surveillance can be employed as a complementary tool to clinical surveillance of COVID-19… “the uptake of environmental surveillance must not divert attention and resources away from clinical surveillance, essential public health response measures and maintaining safe operation of water supply, sanitation and hygiene services in communities and institutional settings”. Read more https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/water-and-sanitation/publications/2020/rapid-expert-consultation-on-environmental-surveillance-of-sars-cov-2-in-wastewater-summary-report-2020
Benefits of targeted swage sampling under a wastewater based epidemiology strategy – By testing dorm wastewater for the coronavirus, the University of Arizona may have stomped out a potential outbreak before it could spread, The Washington Post reports: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/poop-tests-stop-covid-19-outbreak-university-arizona?utm_campaign=news_daily_2020-08-28&et_rid=619717835&et_cid=3463056