Early in the pandemic, Gertjan Medema demonstrated that genetic traces of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage correlate with COVID-19 disease trends in the population. Hence wastewater surveillance can serve as an early warning of SARS-CoV-2 community transmission.
The project Wastewater4COVID project will test and implement the method in South-Africa and The Netherlands simultaneously, which allows for comparison of 2 different contexts. By combining wastewater data (under the ground) with epidemiological data (above the ground), the method can inform health authorities about the virus’s distribution, support them in their monitoring efforts, and assist with an effective outbreak response.
The primary outcomes of the Wastewater4COVID project will be:
- Community-wide test capacity in both countries of wastewater sources;
- Assessment and Improvement of existing methods for coronavirus detection in water sources;
- Strategies to scale-up monitoring programs to provide statistically representative information;
- Data analysis and visualisation instruments for virus circulation in communities to support health decision-making.
The Wastewater4COVID project is a Public-Private Partnership between Waternet and Blue Deal, both public organisations, Royal Haskoning DHV, an international engineering consultancy firm and KWR. The collaborating project in South Africa is connected through the EUREKA programme ‘Solutions for COVID-19 echo period – life without vaccines’.