Research on sewage surveillance for early detection of virus outbreaks
The disastrous impact of the global coronavirus pandemic once again emphasizes how important the early detection of virus outbreaks is. Rapid and reliable detection is essential to enabling an adequate response and to mitigate current and new outbreaks.
Adessium Foundation supports research carried out by Erasmus MC and its research partners on the use of sewage measurements to detect corona infections. The purpose of this research is to establish whether or not this can be a reliable additional indicator of the extent of the virus’ spread and degree of infection.
According to Prof. Dr. Marion Koopmans, professor of virology leading this study, “Early detection is critical to preventing a second wave of the virus. A considerable percentage of the corona patients excrete the virus through bowel movements, even if they don’t have any symptoms.”
General practitioners (GPs) and test facilities can already detect an increase in virus infections, but the expectation is that sewage measurements can provide important additional information. This method may also be used to detect infection in groups of people who don’t have any symptoms or who don’t visit their GPs.
Four systems are used for virus detection in the research: sewage sample research, data registration from GP practices, data from virology laboratories and medical registration. The research compares these systems to one another to determine which method is the best for the early detection of new virus circulation and how the four systems are related to or interact with one another. The data is used to determine the accuracy of sewage surveillance.
Currently, the research involves the data on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This monitoring is expected to result in a reliable validation procedure for warning systems for the early detection of SARS-CoV-2 and future outbreaks, including those of other bacteria and viruses. Bacteria hotspots and current and new virus outbreaks could be made visible for each pumping station, which in turn would make it possible to take more targeted measures at even the city or neighborhood level.
The Erasmus MC Foundation makes promising scientific research possible, along with projects to benefit patient care at the Erasmus MC. The fund supports doctors and researchers in their search for better prevention, treatment and recovery from the diseases of today and tomorrow in order to create a healthy future for everyone.