Frontiers in Public Health
COVID-19, dynamic time warping, filtration, lead/lag time, polyethylene glycol precipitation, SARS-CoV-2, virus adsorption-elution, wastewater surveillance
Introduction: Wastewater surveillance has proven to be a valuable approach to monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Recognizing the benefits of wastewater surveillance as a tool to support public health in tracking SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens, numerous wastewater virus sampling and concentration methods have been tested for appropriate applications as well as their significance for actionability by public health practices. Methods: Here, we present a 34-week long wastewater surveillance study that covers nearly 4 million residents of the Detroit (MI, United States) metropolitan area. Three primary concentration methods were compared with respect to recovery of SARS-CoV-2 from wastewater: Virus Adsorption-Elution (VIRADEL), polyethylene glycol precipitation (PEG), and polysulfone (PES) filtration. Wastewater viral concentrations were normalized using various parameters (flow rate, population, total suspended solids) to account for variations in flow. Three analytical approaches were implemented to compare wastewater viral concentrations across the three primary concentration methods to COVID-19 clinical data for both normalized and non-normalized data: Pearson and Spearman correlations, Dynamic Time Warping (DTW), and Time Lagged Cross Correlation (TLCC) and peak synchrony. Results: It was found that VIRADEL, which captures free and suspended virus from supernatant wastewater, was a leading indicator of COVID-19 cases within the region, whereas PEG and PES filtration, which target particle-associated virus, each lagged behind the early alert potential of VIRADEL. PEG and PES methods may potentially capture previously shed and accumulated SARS-CoV-2 resuspended from sediments in the interceptors. Discussion: These results indicate that the VIRADEL method can be used to enhance the early-warning potential of wastewater surveillance applications although drawbacks include the need to process large volumes of wastewater to concentrate sufficiently free and suspended virus for detection. While lagging the VIRADEL method for early-alert potential, both PEG and PES filtration can be used for routine COVID-19 wastewater monitoring since they allow a large number of samples to be processed concurrently while being more cost-effective and with rapid turn-around yielding results same day as collection.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Zhao, Liang; Geng, Qiudi; Corchis-Scott, Ryland; McKay, Robert Michael; Norton, John; and Xagoraraki, Irene. (2023). Targeting a free viral fraction enhances the early alert potential of wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2: a methods comparison spanning the transition between delta and omicron variants in a large urban center. Frontiers in Public Health, 11.