In a recent article for The Wire, Water policy analyst Nitya Jacob made a case for testing sewage water in cities, towns and villages for the novel coronavirus.
Jacob said that for several decades now, wastewater-based epidemiology or WBE has been in use to surveil diseases and drugs in the natural environment.
Since February this year, Jacob notes that WBE is being used to detect COVID-19 in different parts of the world.
Paris is one city which started testing sewage water even when the number of positive cases in the city was low. Despite low cases, high concentrations of the virus were detected in the sewage in Paris.
In April, Australia’s National Science Agency reported that the virus had been detected in two wastewater catchments in Southeast Queensland.
Jacob believes that WBE is a “sensitive way to predict the pandemic. It is cheaper than individual testing.”