Austria on the Advance of Early COVID-19 Detection in Sewage

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: August 20, 2020; 11:10 ♦ (Vindobona)

In Austria a research group is analysing sewage in order to find genetic material from the Coronavirus. The data can be used for a regional early warning system and the identification of new clusters.

Minister Köstinger visited the sewage treatment plant in Siggerwiesen. / Picture: © BMLRT / Christian Lendl

The sewage treatment plant in Siggerwiesen, Salzburg and 20 other plants are testing sewage for Coronavirus residues through water analysis. The genetic material of the virus is already dead when reaching the sewage however the testing can be compared with the PCR-test.

According to minister of agriculture Köstinger, this is a very important contribution to the early detection of the Coronavirus in Austria. Worldwide researchers are working on a reliable analysis of sewage to find evidence of the virus. Austria is one of the first countries which is properly working on it.

Sewage is providing information about the consumer behaviour as well as the health conditions of Austrians. The genetic material of COVID-19 can be found even before infected persons start showing any symptoms.

Therefore, the analysis is a tremendous support in localising new clusters and in containing the disease. It is also helpful in forecasting the course of the virus and can be used as a base for political decisions.

However, until this approach can be used as an early warning system suitable for everyday use, some time will still pass according to experts.

This innovative approach is executed by the research group "Coron-A" which is funded by the federation and the states. In total this project will cost about 500,000 euros.