Wastewater-Based Epidemiology

Pillar 1
Sentinel alert system/waste water


The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is presenting an unprecedented challenge to public health containment measures due to both airborne transmission and late detection of the virus. New detection systems are necessary to ensure timeliness of surveillance and actionability of public health measures to prevent community spread of the virus.

Proposed Solution

Wastewater-based epidemiology is a leading indicator of COVID-19 because persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 shed viral RNA in feces several days before experiencing symptoms, even when asymptomatic. The University of Arizona’s wastewater-based epidemiology COVID-19 program, a world leader in this discipline, will scale up these efforts and deliver wastewater-based epidemiology to vulnerable communities across the world.

Statement of Work

UArizona scientists will sample wastewater from discrete sewage collection points and will generate heatmaps of virus concentrations in wastewater, as well as of new cases of COVID-19. These data will show which regions of a service area are most impacted by the pandemic, and also predict future hotspots. This early-warning data can then be shared with health officials and hospital executives within the service area captured by the wastewater sample, so that public health protocols can be prepared ahead of expected reported infections, enabling targeted response efforts for more efficient resource management and healthcare response at the level of utilities, cities, towns, and small communities around the nation.