Researchers around the world are examining the possibility to detect the new coronavirus in the wastewater to see it coming a second wave of infections and thus save lives.
At Syracuse, in the State of New York, researchers have developed a method capable of detecting the signature of the virus causing the COVID-19 collecting the contents of the sewers. According to them, the new coronavirus is not only detectable in the bottom of the nose or in the saliva, but also in the stool !
“As you can imagine, it is quite difficult to extract the RNA of a virus from something as dirty as sewage, but we have got to do this and I am very satisfied with the results,” said microbiologist dr. Hyatt Green, of the State University of New York, in an interview with the news channel american Spectrum News. More specifically, the wastewater is separated using a centrifuge and are then purified and analyzed.
Still not perfect
This method is not perfect : sometimes, the amount of virus found is weak or non-existent and it is difficult to determine whether this is because the disease is not present in the community, or simply because the virus has had time to decompose or that it was too diluted in the water.
Scientists hope to refine this technique before in the fall to be able to prevent a possible second wave. The goal is to recognize the birth of an epidemic in a city or a given neighborhood, even before they become manifest in hospitals.
Several days, raised, may elapse between the time a person is infected by the COVID-19 and the one where she is diagnosed because the symptoms do not appear immediately, and that the availability of screening kits is not always sufficient. Some people are asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic, but everyone goes to the toilet on a daily basis. Hence the interest to analyze the municipal wastewater effluents.
Without replacing the tried and tested methods of screening individuals, consequently, it would possibly gain a bit of time. The information obtained would allow political leaders to take more informed decisions on the places where it is necessary to intervene in order to contain outbreaks, or, on the contrary, when the results are negative, the places where it is safe to restart the economy.
As incongruous as it may seem, the idea of detecting the sars coronavirus in sewage is the subject of several other studies, notably in France and the netherlands. Closer to home, the canadian water Network, an organization based in Waterloo, Ontario, has also launched a pilot project on this subject.
– With the QMI Agency