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Wastewater Surveillance for Covid-19

  • 21 Jul 2022
  • 3 min read

Why in News?

Recently, a study has been carried out in Hyderabad and Bengaluru to check waste-water based surveillance for Covid-19 as an efficient and foolproof way of collecting information about the virus.

What do we need to know about the Study?

  • The aim of this study was to develop a protocol and standard operating procedures for doing this, which the researchers hope to hand over to the industry, who can then act as service providers.
  • The study in Hyderabad was carried out for a period of about a year and obtained data on a population size of about 2.5 lakh.
    • The researchers were able to spot the temporal dynamics in the viral load in drainage water, which was consistently high from July to November 2020.
    • A slight increase in February 2021 hinted at the second wave which set on in March 2021.
    • Samples were collected from Drain:
      • After observation, the researchers found that most of the virus comes from faecal samples.
  • The group has also studied wastewater samples in Bengaluru.
    • They sampled the water from 28 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) dotted across the city.
      • In an STP, the water is collected throughout the day, treated and let out again. So it has to be sampled before treatment.

What are the Advantages of Wastewater Surveillance?

  • Trends of increasing or decreasing viral load can be gauged well before the waves take off.
  • In RT-PCR on a single person’s sample (where the test result can come quickly), it takes a couple of weeks to do the sequence analysis of the sample.
    • In wastewater surveillance, you are sequencing thousands of individuals’ virus contributions.
  • New variants can be spotted in advance, as can different viruses, such as those that cause Dengue, Zika, or TB.
    • This would help the health department to be prepared to deal with epidemics.
  • Unlike other types of Covid-19 surveillance, wastewater surveillance does not depend on people having access to healthcare, people seeking healthcare when sick, or availability of Covid-19 testing.

Source: TH

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