Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak occurred in Wuhan (China) at the end of last year, scientists had many questions to answer about what the virus is capable of. The good part is that many puzzles had been solved regarding COVID-19, but humanity still needs plenty of information for bringing both a vaccine and a treatment.
Until this moment, the new coronavirus has killed over 650,000 people worldwide, and the horror won’t end pretty soon. There are currently significant increases in the number of daily infected cases in several countries, including the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Romania, Serbia, and more. While a whole world is wondering how we can end this madness, a new study provides hope.
Hope comes from wastewater and the sewer
A potential surveillance method for monitoring the novel coronavirus is getting tested in the States. This means that the answer lies in wastewater and the sewer.
Scott Meschke, who is a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences from the University of Washington, declared:
“A fair number of folks shed their feces and so sewers become essentially a great composite sample of the population,”
“So you can spend a whole lot of money going out and testing everybody individually if you want to see whether something is coming into the community, and you can do that all of the time. Or you can just take the kind of composite samples at a wastewater plant and get a picture of what’s coming into that population.”
In the sewers testing, scientists are hoping to identify the genetic signal of the new coronavirus that’s caused through RNA. While RNA doesn’t last too long outside of the host, in sewage, there’s enough organic material that allows parts of it to survive without being degraded.
Merchke also spoke about the spread of the virus across the country:
“So if you’re monitoring these small communities that haven’t had it introduced and you get an introduction, you can act early because you can usually detect it as much as a couple of days to a week early, before clinical science has shown up.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, so does the human desire for progress. It will be interesting to see which one of the two sides will win.