Wastewater detection helps scientist better understand how COVID is spreading

Every two weeks across thirty different sites in the state of Nebraska, a team collects waste water samples. It allows them to detect covid-19 but more importantly, how it will spread.
Waste

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) –Every two weeks across thirty different sites in the state of Nebraska, a team collects waste water samples. It allows them to detect covid-19 but more importantly, how it will spread.

“When we detect the virus, we can detect it in a viral concentration, because we use a quantitative method. So, when we have that  we know there might be, you know, more cases,” Spencer Perry, a research engineer with the University of Nebraska, said.

Perry says over the past two years, they have been enhancing how they collect samples to help the department of health better predict where we might see an outbreak.

“It’s kind of the first like, they call it the canary in the coal mine. Right? You don’t really know. It’s tough to predict the exact numbers, but you know, that there’s increases or if there’s none at all,” Perry said.

People can shed the virus into waste water before they even realize they have symptoms. On top of that, it can detect variants within a community before a major spread begins.

“If we have increases in vital concentrations, we can watch it as it moves across the state more or less. That’s kind of how the state of Nebraska can use, use what we have and help them understand COVID,” he said.

This has been utilized greatly during the pandemic when it comes to preparing for what’s to come, but it’s not the first time something like this has been used to figure out what might happen with a virus and most likely won’t be the last.

Categories: Coronavirus, Nebraska News, News