Easiest way to test for COVID-19? Look at the wastewater.

Just one wastewater treatment plant captures waste collected from thousands to millions of people. It has become apparent that routine wastewater surveillance can be used as a non-invasive early-warning tool - sometimes 1-2 weeks ahead the rise of confirmed cases in the region - to alert communities to COVID-19 infections. Several governmental public health agencies from Australia to the Netherlands introduced regular monitoring programs to measure the presence of SARS-COV-2 coronavirus in wastewater. The National Public Health Center of Hungary is among those authorities and started regular sampling and testing since June, 2020. (Side note - the photo is taken at South-Pest Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of our customers, Organica’s, references).

Wastewater samples are taken and being analyzed on a regular basis from several wastewater treatment plants located in the largest communities of Hungary. Test results are visualized on infographics, indicating the scale of infection from low to high, and the main trends (declining, stagnant, increasing or rapidly increasing):

It is without a doubt this approach might be one of the cheapest and most representative alternatives of following trends in large communities, while providing an indication of “true” presence of COVID-19 in certain areas.


This post was written by Imi Toth, Transcend's lead process engineer.

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