Moving forward with COVID-19: Future research prospects of wastewater-based epidemiology methodologies and applications
Current Opinion in Environmental Science and Health
Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been demonstrated for its great potential in tracking of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission among populations despite some inherent methodological limitations. These include non-optimized sampling approaches and analytical methods; stability of viruses in sewer systems; partitioning/retention in biofilms; and the singular and inaccurate back-calculation step to predict the number of infected individuals in the community. Future research is expected to (1) standardize best practices in wastewater sampling, analysis and data reporting protocols for the sensitive and reproducible detection of viruses in wastewater; (2) understand the in-sewer viral stability and partitioning under the impacts of dynamic wastewater flow, properties, chemicals, biofilms and sediments; and (3) achieve smart wastewater surveillance with artificial intelligence and big data models. Further specific research is essential in the monitoring of other viral pathogens with pandemic potential and subcatchment applications to maximize the benefits of WBE beyond COVID-19.
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Australian Research Council