Research

The analysis of microbial pathogens in sewage and wastewater from domestic sources through to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) has been used widely across the world for environmental surveillance, and has been integrated with epidemiological investigations of epidemic and pandemic disease.

As part of the Wastewater surveillance project, we will:

 1. Undertake high frequency monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater at major urban centres across Wales, representing about 45% of Wales population.

2. Undertake medium frequency monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater from smaller urban centres across Wales, representing about 25% of population.

3. Use time series analysis to determine ‘trigger points’ at which SARS-CoV-2 is starting to increase in the population at individual locations (i.e. early warning system).

4. Analyse the lineages of SARS-CoV-2 present in the wastewater and to compare these against those of clinical cases to identify potential new variants entering Wales.

5. Determine the amount and types of other respiratory viruses and pathogens also circulating in the population. 

6. Undertake targeted analysis of point source discharges of strategic importance, such as hospitals.

7. Should an outbreak occur, undertake sub-catchment monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 to facilitate targeted lockdown and containment. 

8. Provide timely advice to Welsh Government and national agencies on changes in disease prevalence within Wales.