Simple paper tests will make it possible to identify biochemical markers of coronavirus that enter the sewage system with urine and feces.
Scientists from the Franco-British Research University of Cranfield are working on a test that will help determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in the wastewater. An article about this was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
An analysis of domestic wastewater can provide an efficient and quick prediction of the potential spread of COVID-19 coronavirus pneumonia. The basis of this approach is the determination of viral biomarkers that enter the sewers with the excrement of infected people. The paper-based quick test kits that scientists are now working on can be used at wastewater treatment plants to track sources and determine the location of potential carriers of the virus.
The principle of the test is as follows: a sample of water passes through several layers of special paper to filter out viral amino acids. On the paper itself, some reagents enter into a biochemical reaction with RNA of coronavirus. The test result is determined visually, by changing the color of the indicator circle on the test.
“In the case of asymptomatic infection, real-time analysis of the wastewater in the community using paper-based analytical devices will help determine if there are COVID-19 carriers in the area,” explains one of the authors of the development, Zhugen Yang. A quick screening technique will allow you to make a timely decision on the introduction of preventive and quarantine measures even before the situation with the spread of the pathogen becomes uncontrolled.
Although the possibility of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 through excrement remains unconfirmed, scientists report that viral RNA may be present in the feces and urine of patients who have had coronavirus for two weeks after the symptoms disappeared. Also, studies of the SARS-CoV virus, known as the causative agent of SARS, have shown that it can remain stable in excrement for 24-48 hours.
The tests developed by the researchers are quite cheap: the cost of one does not exceed the pound sterling (less than 100 Russian rubles). Also, the development is very easy to use and suitable for non-specialists. Used tests can be disposed of by incineration.
Also, the development can be modified to identify other pathogens that can cause an asymptomatic infection. “The device can provide a complete and immediate picture of the health status of the population,” concludes Zhugen Yang.