Covid-19: wastewater control against a second wave

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In the absence of a comprehensive population review, the French National Academy of Medicine recommends strengthening wastewater control to prevent a second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The goal is to detect traces of coronavirus in stool early, to limit its spread and prevent further quarantine.

China, Germany, Italy, Portugal, India; These countries have one thing in common: they have recently identified new outbreaks of coronavirus or seen their number of Covid-19 cases increase. Outcome? They have been partially quarantined again.

In France, no sign was seen "in favor of the resumption of the epidemic," according to Public Health France. But vigilance is still essential. If sanitary and barrier measures remain in place, a surprising method could help us avoid a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic: analysis of wastewater.

This incredible recommendation was made by the National Academy of Medicine. In a press release, he recalled that "globally, the Covid-19 pandemic is in the acceleration phase, according to the WHO director-general, with one million cases reported in the past eight days." To avoid further quarantines in France, the scholarly society recommends an intensification of screening tests in communities at risk and the maintenance of sanitary measures.

But that is not all: the National Academy of Medicine also recommends strengthening "epidemiological surveillance throughout the territory by implementing a wastewater control program aimed at locating communities that maintain a circulation of Sars-CoV-2" . This method is already used by a dozen research groups around the world. So far, it has helped researchers find traces of coronaviruses in the Netherlands, the United States, and Sweden, according to an article published in the scientific journal Nature in April.

Detecting traces of coronavirus in stool

But in concrete terms, how does this wastewater control work and what is it for? It allows researchers to detect viruses excreted in urine or faeces, in order to estimate the total number of infections in a community, by not implementing a comprehensive population screening.

Studies have shown that coronavirus can be detected in feces within three days of infection. However, it is known that severe Covid-19 symptoms leading to hospital treatment can occur up to two weeks after infection. Wastewater monitoring could be one step ahead.

"Routine monitoring of wastewater could be used as a non-invasive early warning tool to inform communities about new Covid-19 infections," concludes Ana Maria de Roda Husman, an infectious disease researcher at the Institute. National Institute of Public Health and Environment in Bilthoven (The Netherlands), in the journal Nature. A good way to isolate a small part of the population in question and thus avoid a more global reconfiguration.

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