The Key to Tracking Coronavirus Could Be Your Poo

Sewage surveillance could help scientists predict new outbreaks

troy farah
OneZero
Published in
5 min readApr 6, 2020

--

WeWe won’t have to shelter from the new coronavirus forever. In fact, we may be able to briefly return to public life this summer, according to The Atlantic. But several predictors of Covid-19 outbreaks suggest the virus could be seasonal, returning with fury in the fall. It is likely that several periods of social distancing will be necessary for containing the virus until a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is widely available, which could take a year or more.

How will folks know when it’s safe to come out and when to go back indoors? There may be clues in our sewage.

Dozens of scientists across the globe are sampling poo to find tiny shreds of the coronavirus that can serve as an early warning of outbreaks. In theory, if viral levels reach a certain threshold, health experts can tell more people to stay home. When viral loads abate, they can tell people it’s okay to fraternize.

Last week, Dutch scientists announced a first-of-its-kind method for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. The team, from KWR Water Research Institute, took samples of wastewater from six Dutch cities as well as Amsterdam’s airport in February 2020, weeks before the Netherlands…

--

--

troy farah
OneZero

documentary field producer, independent journalist, photo-taker. insects/drugs/vaporwave. life is a vision—enter the void. // more info at troyfarah.com