AN ANALYSIS of waste waters in the Valencian Community has provided a unique insight into the successful containment of COVID-19.
A drop from 1,200,000 copies of viral genetic material per litre to just 70,000 was recorded at a laboratory taken over by Valencia’s government, the Generalitat.
The tests were carried out on May 12 and May 30, respectively.
Specialists at the Gamaser laboratory took samples of sewage and waste water from 20 points across the Valencian Community.
The sites included Sagunto and Gandia in Valencia, Javea and Calpe in Alicante, and Morella and Oropesa in Castellon.
The method, baptised SARS-GO Analytics, has been validated by Spain’s Institute of Food Agrochemistry and Technology (IATA) and the Supreme Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC).
It allows the detection of genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 in each litre of water.
Global Ominum president Eugenio Calabuig, whose organisation owns the Gamaser lab, said the technique could ‘alert’ and ‘control’ new COVID-19 outbreaks down to the neighbourhood level.
He said genetic viral material (RNA) can remain in the human body, including faeces and urine, for up to 20 days following infection – this can occur without the patient suffering any symptoms.
“The early warning system will allow administrations to act in areas where there is a need and be able to implement measures such as individual tests. We can act before the symptoms come to light,” Calabuig said.
The system has already been exported to Andalucia, and to the north, with hopes of implementation in Madrid and Barcelona.
The President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, said the technique made it possible to verify ‘the decline of the pandemic’.
“Now it is about monitoring possible outbreaks and having a clearer awareness of how to act,” he said.