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How Wastewater Testing Is Used to Detect COVID-19

Things have gotten admittedly complex with the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic dragging on for over a year. Amidst the urgency and complexity surrounding testing the populations, a solution has emerged in wastewater. Mass testing of a whole dormitory or town can easily and accurately be done in one pooled sample.


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Wastewater-based epidemiology or WBE, as it’s called, has been used in many applications before including testing for industrial and pharmaceutical wastes, drugs, viruses, and bacteria.

Wastewater testing enables the creation of an accurate system that can help stop the virus by quantifying, to an accurate degree, the strain and amount of virus in any community chosen.

In March 2020, a study in the Netherlands by KWR Water Research Institute was able to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in the wastewater. This was within just a week of the first patients being diagnosed with the virus. The ability to test a large cross-section of any given population at a go gives scientists and governments a distinct advantage in the fight against not just this pandemic, but any others that may occur in the future.

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