As worldwide COVID-19 cases continue to rise, there is a significant need to increase testing and population surveillance capacity. Traditionally such efforts have relied solely on clinical testing of individual patients. But recent reports demonstrate that a proportion of the individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, shed viral RNA into feces providing the opportunity to surveil wastewater to monitor the presence and trends of SARS-CoV-2 infection within a community. This practice, known as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), has been previously used to monitor public health status for a number of viruses including poliovirus, norovirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, and aichi virus. Importantly, initial studies indicate that SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in feces is agnostic to symptom severity, which indicates WBE could provide less biased public health monitoring than clinical testing alone.
In this webinar, Aaron Bivins of the University of Notre Dame will describe methods for direct-adsorption extraction and Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) for the sensitive and reproducible quantification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in primary influent samples from two municipalities.
Raul Gonzalez of Hampton Roads Sanitation District will provide insights on a 20-week study demonstrating that wastewater SARS-CoV-2 concentrations have steadily risen ahead of clinically confirmed cases and propose several ways that data can be presented to be of greatest use to public health officials.
Together they will highlight the utility of wastewater-based epidemiology to detect and track SARS-CoV-2 infection within a community using Droplet Digital PCR.