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In Journal of environmental chemical engineering

Under the current pandemic situation caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, wastewater monitoring has been increasingly investigated as a surveillance tool for community-wide disease prevalence. After a year into the pandemic, this review critically discusses the real progress made in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 using wastewater monitoring. The limitations and the key challenges faced in improving the detection methods are highlighted. As per the literature, the complex nature of the wastewater matrix poses problems in processing the samples and achieving high sensitivity at low loads of viral RNA using the current detection methods. Furthermore, in the absence of a gold standard analytical method for wastewater, the validation of the generated data for use in wastewater-based epidemiological modeling of the disease becomes practically difficult. However, research is advancing in adopting clinical methods to the wastewater by using appropriate processing controls, and recovery methods. Besides, the technological advances made by the industry including the development of PCR kits with improved detection limits, easy-to-use viral RNA concentration methods, ability to detect the coronavirus variants, and artificial intelligence and advanced data modeling for continuous and remote monitoring greatly help to debottleneck some of these problems. Currently, these technologies are limited to healthcare systems, however, their use for wastewater monitoring is expected to provide opportunities for wide-scale applications of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). Moreover, the data from wastewater monitoring act as the initial checkpoint for human health even before the appearance of symptoms, hence WBE needs more attention to manage current and future infectious transmissions.

Pulicharla Rama, Kaur Guneet, Brar Satinder K


Artificial intelligence, Automated wastewater sampling, Big data analytics, COVID-19, Digital droplet PCR, Wastewater-based epidemiology