Detecting COVID-19 Variants in Wastewater

IWA Task Force on COVID-19 COVID-19

Target Audience

Public health, water and sanitation professionals; water utilities; science councils; consultants; universities; research, commercial and pathology laboratories


The tracking of RNA material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater has been proposed worldwide as an epidemiological tool and early warning system to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Wastewater-based epidemiology aims to complement other COVID-19 surveillance data, including clinical testing, by providing pooled data for a specific area including symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, and to provide data where COVID-19 clinical testing is limited.

The emergence of more virulent SARS-CoV-2 strains worldwide has increased the need to keep track of variants and their abundance. Limited published research has shown the presence of variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the sewershed. Tracking of these variants and their abundance in the sewershed could provide an early warning system for more virulent strains.

This webinar will present the latest and most appropriate methodologies, research and findings with respect to detecting SARS-CoV-2 variants in wastewater. The event is open to all interested parties to understand how wastewater-based epidemiology can be used to support public health decisions and identify the genetic diversity and prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 variants in a given population.

Learning Objectives

Following this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the methodologies associated with SARS-CoV-2 variant detection;
  • Appreciate the usefulness of the wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) approach to support clinical data on evolving SARS CoV 2 variants;
  • Identify the steps required to monitor variants in a sewershed and keep track of which variants are becoming virulent through their abundance.


Presentation Slides and Q&A Report

  • To view the Presentation Slides from the webinar, please click here.
  • To view the Q&A Report from the webinar, please click here.
  • To visit the IWA COVID-19 Task Force interest group page on IWA Connect, please click here.


Webinar Resources

Here are some resources recommended by the webinar panelists:


International Water Association