Researchers tested metropolitan Vancouver’s wastewater for fragments of COVID virus: here’s what they found

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Researchers tested metropolitan Vancouver’s wastewater for fragments of COVID virus: here’s what they found


VANCOUVER – New research from the University of British Columbia suggests that testing wastewater can help health officials determine levels of COVID-19 infection in a community, including the rise of worrisome variants .

The research, led by UBC professor Dr Ryan Ziels, analyzed wastewater samples from five municipal wastewater treatment plants in Metro Vancouver between February and April 2021, which was a period of increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“The novel coronavirus can be excreted in the stool, and so many groups around the world have shown that we can detect the frequency or abundance of specific mutations (COVID-19)… in municipal wastewater,” Ziels said.

The researchers used portable DNA sequencers to analyze fragments of the coronavirus genome in the samples. The results showed that viral concentrations in wastewater could signal future changes in hospitalizations or the number of cases in the region.

“We are providing this information to our health authorities as an additional aid in their public health strategies,” Ziels said in a statement.

Plus, fast DNA sequencing means there is a quick turnaround time for test results.

“We provide reports to update our medical officers of health in as little as three to four days from sample collection,” he said.

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