Testing specificity and sensitivity of wastewater-based epidemiology for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in four communities on Vancouver Island, Canada

Environ Adv. 2022 Oct 28:100310. doi: 10.1016/j.envadv.2022.100310. Online ahead of print.


We report wastewater surveillance of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 based upon 24-hour composite influent samples taken weekly from four wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada between January 3, 2021 and July 10, 2021. Samples were analyzed by reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction targeting the N1 and N2 gene fragments of SARS-CoV-2 and a region of the replication associate protein of the pepper mottle mosaic virus (PMMoV) serving as endemic control. Only a small proportion of samples had quantifiable levels of N1 or N2. Overall case rates are weakly correlated with the concentration (gene copies/L) and with the flux of viral material influent to the WWTP (gene copies/day); the latter accounts for influent flow variations. Poisson multimodal rank correlation accounts for differences between the four WWTP and shows a significant correlation with a significant positive intercept. Receiver operator characteristics (ROC) analysis confirms a cut-off of cases based on amplified/not-amplified experimental data. At the optimal cut point of 19 (N1) or 17 (N2) cases/week/100,000 the sensitivity and specificity is about 75% for N1 and 67% for N2.

PMID:36321068 | PMC:PMC9613784 | DOI:10.1016/j.envadv.2022.100310


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