Analysis of sewage sludge to predict new outbreaks COVID-19

The analysis of concentration of viral RNA in the sediment of waste water allows to predict the flash COVID-19 and to prepare for it. This is the conclusion reached by the team of researchers, examined data from the American city of new haven. Preprint of their article was published on the website The authors believe that this approach is much faster than tracking the pandemic through testing.

Trying to track the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the authorities are guided by the results of diagnostic tests. However, this approach is insufficiently operational. The fact that testing typically subjected to people who have already manifested symptoms of the disease, and it occurs about five days after infection. All this time the patient spreads the disease among others. In other words, existing techniques are behind the pandemic for a few days and do not cover the entire population. We reported extensively on this issue in the blog “Just numbers”.

A team of researchers led by the Jordan Peccia (Jordan Peccia) from Yale University have proposed a new approach which will allow in real time to assess the situation with COVID-19. Scientists have noticed that in the stool of infected SARS-CoV-2 contains viral RNA. It was also detected in the wastewater. This led scientists to the idea that through the analysis of untreated water from the sewage can predict outbreaks at the level of individual municipalities.

The authors analyzed concentrations of coronavirus RNA in the sediment of sewage produced in the city of new haven, Connecticut, from March 19 to may 1, 2020. To do this they took samples of the sludge from sewage treatment plants, which serve about 200,000 people. These data are compared with information on the number of hospitalizations and the number of new patients with a diagnosis of COVID-19, which provided local health service.

Graph showing the increase in the content of the coronavirus RNA in the sediment of the wastewater were almost an exact copy of the schedules in which it was noted trend in the number of hospitalizations and diagnosed cases of infection of SARS-CoV-2. The maximum concentration of RNA in sludge was observed three days before the peak of hospitalizations and seven days before the peak of cases. This means that the analysis of sewage sludge can indeed help to predict the flash COVID-19 and take appropriate action.

Although particle RNA SARS-CoV-2 was frequently detected in stool of patients for a long time it was unclear whether this virus to affect cells of the intestine. Confirmation of this found researchers from China. They successfully infected with coronavirus artificial intestines of man and bat.

Sergey Knee High

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