COVIDETECT project, starting in April 2020, has shown that wastewaters can be used to early detect COVID-19 outbreaks and also investigate the diversity of SARS-COV-2 genomes circulating in the community. The preliminary results of this project where first presented this May in Lisbon. According to the involved, the data collected in the waste waters correlate with the daily evolution of the COVID-19 outbreaks from the last months (760 wastewater samples between April 27th and December 2nd). Their results also confirm the potential of the effluents for genomic investigation, in order to understand the rise of new variants and mutations, in opposition to clinical surveillance.
The methods for detection and quantification of SARS-COV-2 were applied to 5 WWTP in the urban centers of Lisboa, Cascais, Gaia and Guimarães (all large cities in Portugal), covering 20 % of the country’s population and including region with a large rate of contagion. The study also monitorized the virus circulation in the sewage of 3 Hospitals serving some of the mentioned cities.
Besides the affluents of WWTP, also the effluents of these facilities were analised. They detected the presence of some genetic material of the virus, but with no possibility of causing new infections.
COVIDETECT project is developed by a consortium that includes Grupo AdP – Águas de Portugal, Faculdade de Ciência da Universidade de Lisboa and Laboratório de Análises do Instituto Superior Técnico.