With the corona pandemic around, many infected people are shedding the SARS-CoV-2 virus in their stool. Therefore, the virus can be detected in our sewage. The presence of SARS-CoV-19 virus fragments in raw wastewater has been shown, amongst others by Medema and co-workers:
We are now working with the European NORMAN network, to setup a joint monitoring effort for detection of the SARS-CoV-19 RNA fragments in wastewater. KWR has developed a harmonised sampling and analysis protocol, which is sent to over 80 labs in the network. Jan Hofman and Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern are members of the core team leading this voluntary action. It is anticipated that the contributing labs will take samples on 1st June. And because the infection numbers are dropping it is becoming urgent to sample. The data will be fed into an open-access database.
In collaboration with KWR, WIRC also working on the development of a sewer model for predicting the spreading of the virus through the sewer network. Together with the wastewater surveillance we hope to setup a tool to monitor trends and perhaps setup an early warning system. The model is based on the sewer modelling work of Olivia Bailey, a WISE CDT student.
Other important research questions that are currently addressed by the international water research community are the prevalence and stability of the virus in water, the need for inactivation and methods for that.
By Jan Hofman