SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance employing Sewage Towards a Sentinel System
The ability to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater is a possible way to better understand its approximate overall presence in the population, if combined with the monitoring of suitable tracers such as cross-assembly phage, pepper mild mottle virus or chemicals tracers related to human activities (e.g. pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of COVID-19).
This report describes a fast track collaborative effort with stakeholders from academia, the Water and Public Health Sectors. The assessment reveals insights into methodologies and entailed costs for a European Sewage Sentinel System for SARS-CoV-2.
Data from two experimental assessments link national, regional and local surveillance programs. It shares the findings of accompanying knowledge brokering and transfer events organized to have a rolling exchange of information and review of advances, such coping with the speed challenge of the rapid dynamics of this pandemic.
Data from wastewater testing cannot replace existing COVID-19 surveillance systems, but complement them by providing:
- information on changes in total COVID-19 infection in the community connected to a sewer shed
- Data for communities where timely COVID-19 clinical testing is underutilized or unavailable.
- An early warning for (re)-emergence in Europe and beyond. Sewage testing has been successfully used as a method for early detection of other diseases, such as polio. Indeed, with the right frequency of testing, the tool can become a leading indicator of changes in COVID-19 burden in a community.
- a COVID-19 indicator that is independent of healthcare-seeking behaviours and access to clinical testing.