A recent study conducted by scientists at the NIBSC, published in Viruses, has shown that monitoring levels of coronavirus in sewage could provide an early warning for local outbreaks across the country. The NIBSC routinely tests sewage for human viruses on behalf of the WHO and our scientists were able to adapt their technique to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19.
Dr Javier Martin, Principal Scientist at the NIBSC, who is leading this work, comments:“Our results show environmental surveillance as a potentially useful tool to detect peaks in virus circulation.”
“Our preliminary data confirms the link between levels of virus found in sewage and rates of COVID-19 infection. It also shows that the genetic makeup of virus extracted from sewage closely matches that of strains known to be infecting individuals in England.” These findings complement the actions of a separate cross-government project that has been established to monitor virus levels in sewage across the country.