UK and Netherlands analyse sewage to find new coronavirus outbreaks


Following a similar effort in the Netherlands, the UK is planning a national research programme in collaboration with universities, water companies, and public research bodies to detect coronavirus in sewage for use as an early warning system for future outbreaks of COVID-19. About half of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 excrete it in feces, and enough survives when sewage reaches treatment plants to test successfully for its genetic fingerprint using PCR analysis. The Dutch programme is run by RIVM, the national institute for public health, which was already monitoring sewage for signs of antibiotic resistance when the news of the new coronavirus arrived from China in early 2020.

Writer: Clive Cookson
Publication: Financial Times
Publication date: 2020-05-22


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