US company to test if sewage water can detect spread of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 800,000 people around the world, with over 30,000 people succumbing to it.

Early detection is monumental in containing the spread of the deadly virus, so a team of researchers in the US has come up with a new way of conducting the tests swiftly. They will be studying sewage water that carries stool to detect the presence of the virus.

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that human faeces carry the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, live.

Using this data, a wastewater analytics company in the US, Biobot, will be carrying out the experiments in collaboration with experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

On its website, Biobot says that it will analyse the city sewage water under a pro bono programme. If interested, a person has to fill in their details and then will be contacted by the company.

“This data will be a critical addition to existing patient testing data to measure the scope of the outbreak and guide a community’s response,” reads the homepage of the company.

In order to carry out the tests, Biobot will be sending a sampling kit and sample collection protocols to sewage collecting facilities.

These plants will collect 24-hour samples and send them back. Researchers at the company will apply the reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) protocol on the sample. This method is also used for COVID-19 tests in the US.

After culture, the results will be sent back to the community.