Pandemic response sees ColoSSoS effort by water industry

July 30, 2020

The ColoSSoS Project – Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance of SARS-COV-2 — is tracking and monitoring the presence and persistence of fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the Australian sewerage network, providing information on where the disease is currently or recently present in the population.

Led by Water Research Australia (WaterRA), ColoSSoS is a uniquely collaborative Australia-wide investigation that sees our members from water utilities, universities and health departments working closely together to develop local monitoring capability in every state.

The collaboration between national experts in health, microbiology, laboratory testing, wastewater-based epidemiology and policy communication will enable vital integration of results of sewage testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus with health data for COVID-19 on both a national and local basis to support governments’ timely response.

“Early stages of the ColoSSoS Project have confirmed that sewage testing is feasible and promising as a tool to complement existing measures such as clinical testing, so that together they may provide a clearer and more timely picture of the presence of COVID-19 in the community,” WaterRA CEO Karen Rouse said.

“The project has been successfully initiated with rapid development of sampling, processing and laboratory testing methods for sewage surveillance. It is continuing to ensure initial detection methods used across the nation are robust, sensitive, specific and comparable, while also identifying any improvements that can deliver greater efficiency and ease of implementation.”

WaterRA is involving all Australian state and territory health authorities both individually and through the Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) to ensure that the project can readily inform national COVID-19 control efforts.