The corona pandemic is in full swing, testing capacities for potential infected are almost exhausted. Researchers are presenting a new idea that could be used to identify new sources of infection quickly and easily in the future.
Researchers have developed a rapid test that could detect the presence of Sars-Cov-2 in wastewater. “Real-time detection could help determine if there are Covid people in a particular area,” said Zhugen Yang from Cranfield University, who, along with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, came up with the idea for the test. It is possible to quickly initiate further tests, quarantine and other countermeasures to spread the virus, the researchers explain in the publication of the results at “Environmental Science & Technology”.
One of the biggest problems of the current corona pandemic is considered to be the transmission of the virus from infected people who do not feel sick themselves. For this reason, foci of infection are not recognized or are recognized only late. Other studies had previously shown that there are live viruses in the stool and urine of Sars-CoV-2 infected, which then end up in the wastewater and are found by the new test.
Specifically, the new test works on the same principle as the researchers’ tests for salmonella, HIV, malaria or even Zika. Paper-like carrier material, onto which chemically active coatings, known as reagents, are applied using special printers, is held in the wastewater and folded in a certain order. Different reaction chains are triggered in this way.
Malaria test already used in Uganda
If the genetic material of the new corona virus is in it, it is replicated by enzymes, which leads to discoloration on paper, at least according to the researchers’ idea. The basis for this paper test is a prototype with which Yang has already detected genetic material of the malaria pathogen in the waste water within 50 minutes. Yang said that this test, which had already worked in Uganda, now had to be adapted for the corona virus.
This test has several advantages. Since it is made of paper, it is easy to stack, store and transport. Yang can be easily burned after use to reduce the risk of proliferation, Yang is quoted on the Cranfield University website. In addition, the test is cheap and easy to use by laypersons after further improvements. The researchers still left open how long it would take for the rapid wastewater test to be available.
Scientists in the Netherlands have also looked into the possibility of using wastewater as an early warning system for Sars-CoV-2 infections. They had discovered genetic material of the new corona virus in a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort, even before an infection with Sars-CoV-2 was reported in the city about 50 kilometers southeast of Amsterdam, writes “Welt”, citing the Bloomberg news agency.