Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Wastewater Treatment Facilities Being Solicited to Test for Virus Causing COVID-19


New studies show that SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, is shed in human waste, meaning it’s collecting in city sewers. 


Biobot, a Somerville, Massachusetts company specializing in wastewater epidemiology, is establishing protocols to test sewage for SARS-CoV-2. If successful, this data will give communities a dynamic map of the virus as it spreads to new places.

Data from sewage will enable communities to:

  1. Measure the scope of the outbreak independent from patient testing or hospital reporting, and include data on asymptomatic individuals,
  2. Provide decision support for officials determining the timing and severity of public health interventions to mitigate the overall spread of the disease,
  3. Better anticipate likely impact on hospital capacity in order to inform hospital readiness and the necessity of public health interventions,
  4. Track the effectiveness of interventions and measure the wind-down period of the outbreak, and
  5. Provide an early warning for reemergence of the coronavirus (if it does indeed have a seasonal cycle).

How it works:

  • Biobot will ship participating facilities a sampling kit and sample collection protocols. Each sampling kit includes supplies for transporting one sewage sample, an ice pack, a return shipping box and label, and instructions.
  • Wastewater facilities will collect 24-hour composite samples, and ship the samples back to Biobot laboratories.
  • Biobot will process the sewage samples to concentrate and inactivate viruses.
  • MIT Alm Lab will apply a RT-PCR protocol, adapted from published testing protocols, to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • Biobot will communicate the test results back to participating communities.

How to receive sampling kits:

Wastewater treatment facilities interested in participating should visit this site - https://www.biobot.io/covid19 - and fill out the form.