COVID-19 was detected in wastewater to identify hotspots

Canadian researchers have proposed a method to determine COVID-19 infection rates in wastewater through sewer sensors.

Sensitivity to COVID-19 presents a challenge to researchers because some of the spread of the virus comes from people who have not shown symptoms of the virus (1). Known asymptomatic carriers, it is not known how many cases of COVID-19 spread to asymptomatic compared to patients with symptoms COVID-19.

COVID-19 is commonly found in diagnostic tests, antibody tests, or COVID-19 administration tests (2). However, people without symptoms are unlikely to be tested. While the restrictions begin quickly, there is an increased risk that people with asymptomatic COVID-19 may spread COVID-19 unknowingly.

COVID-19 was seen earlier

Early seen and treatment for COVID-19 help to reduce the spread and damage done to at -risk populations. Methods for early detection include detection of physical symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and appearance of mucous membranes.

Most procedures for early detection, however, require patients to travel to a research area, further increasing their risk for the spread of infection rather than socially moving away or staying home. Canadian researchers have proposed a unique early detection system that can use sewer sensors to detect COVID-19 hotspots (4). They published their results in the journal PLOS USA.

COVID-19 was found in wastewater

Researchers from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto propose to use a sophisticated algorithm to calculate COVID-19 infection hotspots. The calculation is based on data collected from sensors part of a Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) program.

Wastewater-Based Epidemiology is a new tool that can easily monitor the spread of diseases by analyzing population wastewater (5). Most people have released COVID-19 residues of the SARS-Cov-2 virus in their waste, which ends up in the local wastewater system. Using advanced mathematical models, WBE data can be used to identify newly infected people or infected hot spots (4).

Identify COVID-19 hotspots

To accurately track hotspots, the researchers identified the network to transport wastewater from neighborhoods to wastewater treatment plants (WTP). Individual holes are identified from which dirty water samples can be obtained for testing. If the samples tested positive for SARS-Cov-2 residues, the researchers assumed that a neighborhood downstream from that sampling point had people with COVID-19, because it was detected in wastewater. If the samples are negative, the neighborhood is negative.

Due to the size of the cities and the number of potential sampling points, it is impossible for researchers to sample and analyze each one. Using the mathematical algorithm, the researchers could more accurately identify cavities and neighborhood hotspots for COVID-19 infection. As part of the WBE, semi-permanent sensors will be placed in selected holes. These sensors can detect in real time any ‘red light’ COVID-19 infection in wastewater.

Real world testing

While unattended sensors have not yet been developed, the WBE method of sampling and testing wastewater has been tested in several university dormitories. For example, in the fall of 2020, the University of Arizona monitored and tested wastewater from holes next to student dorms. If signs of COVID-19 infection were seen in the wastewater, all students in the dorm were tested. The student with COVID-19 was removed to ensure the health and safety of the remaining students (6).

The study authors said more research is needed for a quick, inexpensive, and simple COVID-19 test for wastewater samples. Likewise, human -existing sensors need to be improved. Finally, research needs to be done to determine how the wastewater systems themselves affect the proposed detection and testing methods proposed by the researchers (4).

In a press release, the study’s author Professor Oded Berman said, It will be interesting to work on something that is very necessary and could have the potential to help people soon, ”he said. “It’s very different from what I’ve done before.”


  1. Dobrovolny HM. Role modeling of the asymptomatics of prevalent infection using SARS-CoV-2. Lo Iacono G, ed. PLOS USA. 2020; 15 (8): e0236976. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0236976
  2. Health C for D and R. In Vitro Diagnostics EUAs. FDA. Published May 24, 2021. Accessed June 7, 2021. -vitro- diagnostic-euas # individual-antigen
  3. Hashmi MAY, Asif HM. Early Detection and Diagnosis of Covid-19. Limits of Medicine. 2021; 7. doi: 10.3389 / fmed.2020.00311
  4. Nourinejad M, Berman O, Larson RC. Installation of sensors in sewer networks: A system to detect new cases of coronavirus. Oliva G, ed. PLOS USA. 2021; 16 (4): e0248893. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0248893
  5. Sims N, Kasprzyk-Hordern B. Future perspectives on wastewater-based epidemiology: Tracking infectious disease spread and resistance at the community level. World International. 2020; 139: 105689. doi: 10.1016 / j.envint.2020.105689
  6. Larson RC, Berman O, Nourinejad M. Sampling home cavities in SARS-CoV-2 infections. Adrish M, ed. PLOS USA. 2021; 15 (10): e0240007. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0240007
  7. Photo by NickyPe from pixel

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