The brown canary

Published May 30, 2020

Covid-19 rates are going down in a lot of the country, but will the virus come charging back as areas reopen? Or maybe in the fall with the cool weather?

One way we might get an early warning: Testing sewage for the virus.

The idea is pretty simple. We know that infected humans shed SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in feces, so you can take samples of sewage sludge, look for the virus’s genetic materials, and thereby get an idea of the viral load of the pooping population.

The virus, it seems spikes, in poop a few days before it spikes in the population — a leading indicator, if you will. We’ll let you make your own jokes.

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