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Scientists find a faster cheaper way to find outbreaks in our wastewater

Australian researchers trace sewage for early warning COVID-19 spread from CSIRO on Vimeo.

Tracking community outbreaks of COVID-19 through wastewater can happen faster, using more cost-effective tests, according to the CSIRO.

The new research published by the Australian national science agency builds on previous trials which tested untreated sewage and found fragments of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Scientists have now refined their methods of concentrating and recovering the virus from wastewater samples, which can indicate the presence of COVID-19 carriers in the community, regardless of whether they show symptoms.

Of the seven methods tested, the most cost-effective and rapid wastewater tests take between 15 to 30 minutes to process.

Testing is conducted on untreated sewage, collected as it enters a water treatment plant to provide community-level results.

“Based on our knowledge of the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, drinking water is very well protected against all viruses, including the new coronavirus,” stated a CSIRO release.

It is estimated that worldwide wastewater monitoring could save up to US$1 billion for national monitoring programs depending on frequency of sampling and population, according to research.

Wastewater monitoring is significantly cheaper and faster than clinical screening for COVID-19 and could help to avoid a second wave of the pandemics.

“This unique monitoring breakthrough will ensure each suburb gets the medical support it needs so all of us, as a nation, can stay healthier,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.

CSIRO researcher Dr Warish Ahmed, who led a study evaluating the concentration, recovery and detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA (its genetic code), said: “We will keep refining the virus concentration and detection methods to provide more sensitive and accurate results of the viral load in wastewater.

“This will provide information on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community so public health officials can have as much information as possible to manage an outbreak in a timely manner.”

The results will be shared with a global scientific collaboration bringing together more than 50 global experts in water-based epidemiology (WBE) to share testing methods and data to monitor the current pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.


Should show up persons with Covid-19 that do not show symptoms

Great idea and will hopefully be implemented and rolled out throughout Australia.
When shall we see the sampling equipment installed in our wastewater systems? and who will have to place & collect them?

I take it that there is already a protocol for retreival, transport and analysis of samples.
The next stage should be automated systems with sensors in the wastewater feed and onboard analysis which triggers an alert to a monitoring station when a threshold is reached. 


I had been told years ago, by a friend who was seweage plant worker, that sampling and testing of this type, was going on in the war against drugs.

So testing the same surely nothing to get excited about, when that same testing is merely being used for signs of a different "sickness" today.

It is nothing new....



The implementation of this scheme would sure beat getting a swab poked up your nose

Years back (Turnbull) there was a big announcement about a massive "science" spend, and there has been an incredible amount of taxpayer money given since.

I would like someone to tell me WHAT, .....apart from this toilet technology,.....  has been produced for this huge ongoing taxpayer investment.

So many times we see news reports about "break through in".........then hear nothing further.

We hear of "wonderful test results" which are to procede to further testing...........then once again.....nothing! 

Can someone tell me just WHAT all of this Taxpayer money has bought ?

What has been produced to the benefit of Aussie health?

What has been produced that has had any economic value to Aus? 


Have you changed your avatar ???


I trust your dog is OK

How can they trace it back to individuals from all that sewage?



They could just follow the pipelines, inspection caps would help them identify the community clusters. 

What I cannot understand is that the Government collects faeces for a POOP TEST, why not include an extra test with it??