COVID 19 : An Early Warning System - WASTEWATER


As on April 19, 2020, the total number of deaths around the globe due to the deadly disease COVID-19 stands around 1,52,707 ( The global biologist community are working day in and out to find a possible cure/clue to stop this deadly spread. A question that bothers us all is - Is it possible to have an early warning system for COVID 19? The answer is YES. So, has wastewater turned to be a glimmer of hope in these gloomy times? The answer is again YES.

As per literature published online on medRxiv ( and correspondence published in Lancet Journal ( 1253(20)30087-X), researchers at KWR Water Research Institute, Netherlands and Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Netherlands, respectively, noticed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in human faecal samples. The exhaustive studies revealed that wastewater samples collected and tested via RT-PCR methodology had the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Results revealed that the viral load in water could be attributed to symptomatic, asymptomatic, or presymptomatic persons alike. Furthermore, the presence of this virus in wastewater was noticeable in areas wherein the numbers of COVID 19 patients had escalated. These results are indicative that wastewater characterization studies might act as an early warning system. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater also poses a high health risk to persons involved with wastewater management and in areas with poor sanitation facilities. This, in particular, will be helpful in areas where till now no positive COVID 19 cases have been reported. Hence, environmental surveillance is equally essential to stop the spread of this deadly virus. Although, as of today, sewage transmission route of SARS-CoV-2 has not been studied in-depth, it opens up a challenging new domain in Environmental Biotechnological studies.

Dr. Manishita Das Mukherji,
Associate Professor,
Amity Institute of Biotechnology,
Amity University Rajasthan.

Amity University Rajasthan