NEW DELHI: The first wastewater based surveillance in India shows presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in such water while infectivity or transmission through contaminated water is yet to be identified but researchers say it can help to estimate actual COVID-19 infected population.
Researchers from the IIT-Gandhinagar, Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) carried out sampling on May 8 and 27, 2020 from Old Pirana Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) at Ahmedabad, Gujarat with 106 million litres per day (MLD) capacity receiving effluent of Civil Hospital treating COVID-19 patient.
Viral RNAs were isolated from sewage samples and RT-PCR analysis of viral RNA was done for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. The results showed that the WWTP samples on both May 8 and May 27 were positive with all of ORF1ab, N protein genes and S protein genes, which were examined as SARS-CoV-2 genes.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the detection of SARS-CoV-2 genes in wastewater samples from India. For all the three genes, the abundance in the wastewater influent was higher in the samples of May 27. This result is consistent with the infection numbers in the area. In India, the daily new confirmed cases in the previous 10 days of the survey days were approximately double, 3000 and 6000 in the case of May 8 and May 27, respectively,” said the paper in pre-prints.
The consistency between abundance of SARS-CoV-2 genetic materials and number of confirmed cases was also observed in the previous reports in Australia, France, Italy, Spain and Japan, showing that WBE is promising as a surveillance tool of coronavirus spread in a community. The team led by Manish Kumar, Discipline of Earth Science, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar aimed to assist concerned authorities and policymakers to formulate and if needed upgrade the coronavirus surveillance to have an explicit picture of the phase of the pandemic.
US health institute halts HCQ clinical trials
After the WHO, the US National Institutes of Health has decided to stop clinical trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for the treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients as a study found the malaria drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients.
However, India continues to use the anti-malaria drug for treatment in the country. Last week, the WHO announced that the Solidarity Trial’s HCQ arm is being stopped, on the basis of evidence showing it does not reduce the mortality for hospitalised COVID-19 patients.