We are developing methods to accurately track COVID-19 using wastewater to inform how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is circulating in communities.
Wastewater monitoring has the potential to quantitatively track the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, among many thousands of people by testing a sample from a single collection station, and to provide early warning on changes in prevalence before such information is available from individual testing or hospital admission data. Such information could provide valuable feedback to COVID-19 policies as shelter-in-place restrictions are modified.
Our team is developing methods to accurately measure quantities of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, including specific viral strains through amplicon and direct sequencing. The results will provide information on which viral strains are circulating in our communities, and whether new strains are being introduced from other regions due to increased contact and travel. We aim to integrate the wastewater concentration and strain-level data with diagnostic testing and other public health data to provide a more complete picture that can be used by health authorities and decision makers. The development of successful methods for strain-resolved meta-viromics will be applicable to detect the presence of novel pathogens that threaten to cause future epidemics.
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