Scientists have identified RNA stemming from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. This RNA has been discovered in the feces of people suffering from COVID-19. This leads to the possibility of the viral RNA being found in the city sewage. There, the RNA could be used to monitor the prevalence of the novel coronavirus. At the time, scientists have reported the Environmental Science & Technology Letters, suggested by the ACS. These have detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in the sewage from several cities in the Netherlands. The study was originally carried out during the beginning of the pandemic.
Infectious SARS-CoV-2 has been found in samples of stool coming from infected individuals, but the virus still spreads mostly through respiratory droplets, which are transmitted when a person suffering from COVID-19 sneezes, coughs, breathes, laughs or speaks. This information is supported by a number of recent studies. The new coronavirus is present at high levels in the sewage found at treatment plants, so it could pose risks to workers at those facilities. Gertjan Medema, together with his colleagues, is looking into the domestic wastewater of cities in order to detect SARS-CoV-2 within the Netherlands. Researchers have also tried to determine if the levels of the viral RNA are correlated with the COVID-19 prevalence in every city. If that is the case, sewage surveillance could be useful in the monitoring of circulation of SARS-CoV-2 within communities, especially considering the fact that clinical testing underestimates the amount of people that have actually been infected with the novel coronavirus.
As this form of coronavirus took hold in different parts of the world, scientists have collected sewage samples from wastewater treatment plants. These serve six cities in the Netherlands, so they can see if this is a method of detection of COVID-19. The Netherlands saw some samples being taken. 3 weeks before the initial tests, the first tests were taken, so the study is definitely a reliable one.