The Best Place to Find SARS-CoV-2? Possibly in Primary Sludge Stanford Study Finds

Emerging Issues

Stanford research

Stanford researchers examined the best place to search for SARS-CoV-2 by examining raw wastewater effluent and settled primary sludge. Sludge appears to be the most efficient place to test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA strands for wastewater surveillance.

“The primary settled solids samples resulted in higher SARS-CoV-2 detection frequencies than the corresponding influent samples. Likewise, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was more readily detected in solids using one-step digital droplet (dd)RT-PCR than with two-step RT-QPCR and two-step ddRT-PCR, likely owing to reduced inhibition with the one-step ddRT-PCR assay. We subsequently analyzed a longitudinal time series of 89 settled solids samples from a single plant for SARS-CoV-2 RNA as well as coronavirus recovery (bovine coronavirus) and fecal strength (pepper mild mottle virus) controls. SARS-CoV-2 RNA targets N1 and N2 concentrations correlated positively and significantly with COVID-19 clinically confirmed case counts in the sewershed. Together, the results demonstrate that measuring SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in settled solids may be a more sensitive approach than measuring SARS-CoV-2 in influent.”

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