Employing Sewage Epidemiology to Quantify and Predict SARS-CoV-2 Levels in UK and Spanish Communities

Non-infectious genetic residues of viruses, not unlike other microbes, can remain in wastewater systems in the locations where infected people go to the toilet. This project is sampling sewage from different sub-catchments across North East England and in Santiago de Compostela, Spain to quantify concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus) and other biomarkers in local sewage. These data then are being related back to human population numbers, especially COVID-19 cases within each sub-catchment. The work is will ultimately develop an integrated numerical susceptible-exposed-infected-removed (SEIR) model to help public health officials identify possible infection ‘hot spots’ based on sewage markers. The monitoring and SEIR model will be especially helpful in places with higher levels of asymptomatic individuals, which often are missed based on SARS-CoV-2 patient testing.

Academic staff: Co-Investigator Professor David Graham (School of Engineering)
Researcher: Co-Investigator Dr Marcos Quintela Baluja (School of Engineering)
Contact: david.graham@newcastle.ac.uk
Sponsor: EPSRC (Impact Acceleration Award)
Partners: Professor Jesús Romalde, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Northumbrian Water Ltd; and Labaqua
Start Date: 2020
End Date: 2020
Also see: Newcastle University Press Release: Sewage monitoring could provide an early warning of COVID-19 outbreaks