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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22270937


BackgroundRecent applications of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) have demonstrated its ability to track the spread and dynamics of COVID-19 at the community level. Despite the growing body of research, quantitative synthesis of SARS-CoV-2 titers in wastewater generated from studies across space and time using diverse methods has not been performed. ObjectiveThe objective of this study is to examine the correlations between SARS-CoV-2 viral titers in wastewater across studies, stratified by key covariates in study methodologies. In addition, we examined the associations of proportions of positive detections (PPD) in wastewater samples and methodological covariates. MethodsWe systematically searched the Web of Science for studies published by February 16th, 2021, performed a reproducible screen, and employed mixed-effects models to estimate the levels of SARS-CoV-2 viral titers in wastewater samples and their correlations to case prevalence, sampling mode (grab or composite sampling), and the fraction of analysis (FOA, i.e., solids, solid-supernatant mixtures, or supernatants/filtrates) ResultsA hundred and one studies were found; twenty studies (1,877 observations) were retained following a reproducible screen. The mean of PPD across all studies was 0.67 (95%-CI, [0.56, 0.79]). The mean titer was 5,244.37 copies/mL (95%-CI, [0; 16,432.65]). The Pearson Correlation coefficients (PCC) between viral titers and case prevalences were 0.28 (95%-CI, [0.01; 0.51) for daily new cases or 0.29 (95%-CI, [-0.15; 0.73]) for cumulative cases. FOA accounted for 12.4% of the variability in PPD, followed by case prevalence (9.3% by daily new cases and 5.9% by cumulative cases) and sampling mode (0.6%). Among observations with positive detections, FOA accounted for 56.0% of the variability in titers, followed by sampling mode (6.9%) and case prevalence (0.9% by daily new cases and 0.8% by cumulative cases). While sampling mode and FOA both significantly correlated with SARS-CoV-2 titers, the magnitudes of increase in PPD associated with FOA were larger. Mixed-effects model treating studies as random effects and case prevalence as fixed effects accounted for over 90% of the variability in SARS-CoV-2 PPD and titers. InterpretationsPositive pooled means and confidence intervals in PCC between SARS-CoV-2 titers and case prevalence indicators provide quantitative evidence reinforcing the value of wastewater-based monitoring of COVID-19. Large heterogeneities among studies in proportions of positive detections, titers, and PCC suggest a strong demand in methods to generate data accounting for cross-study heterogeneities and more detailed metadata reporting. Large variance explained by FOA suggesting FOA as a direction that needs to be prioritized in method standardization. Mixed-effects models accounting for study level variations provide a new perspective to synthesize data from multiple studies.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20177667


There is increasing interest to use wastewater-based surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 as an early warning of the outbreak within a community. Despite successful detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewaters sampled from multiple locations, there is still no clear idea on the minimal number of cases needed in a community to result in a positive detection of the virus in wastewaters. To address this knowledge gap, we sampled wastewaters from a septic tank and biological activated sludge tank located on-site of a hospital. The hospital is providing treatment for SARS-CoV-2 infected patients, with the number of hospitalized patients per day known. It was observed that > 253 positive cases out of 10,000 persons are required prior to detecting SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. There was a weak correlation between N1 and N2 gene abundances in wastewater with the number of hospitalized cases. This correlation was however not observed for N3 gene. The occurrence frequency of SARS-CoV-2 is at least 5 times lower in the partially treated wastewater than in the septic tank. Furthermore, abundance of N1 and N3 genes in the activated sludge tank were 50 and 70% of the levels detected in septic tank, suggesting poor persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 gene fragments in wastewater. O_FIG O_LINKSMALLFIG WIDTH=200 HEIGHT=115 SRC="FIGDIR/small/20177667v1_ufig1.gif" ALT="Figure 1"> View larger version (28K): org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@3c868eorg.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@1a5ec59org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@3fcafborg.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@273440_HPS_FORMAT_FIGEXP M_FIG C_FIG