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About using wastewater to track COVID-19

Published Apr 15, 2020

In a rapid response effort, scientists at KTH has started to analyse traces of COVID-19 in wastewater in the Stockholm region.

According to international preliminary studies (read more about "How sewage could reveal true scale of coronavirus outbreak"  on, this may be an important source for information in the day to day combatting of the pandemic. Hopefully it could also lead to an early warning system able to predict a second outbreak.

The project is carried out by the SciLifeLab and the SEED and Chemical Engineering departments at KTH, in close collaboration with the partners Stockholm Vatten och Avfall and Värmdö municipality. The WaterCentre@KTH supports the project with an initial grant to kick-start the work, while awaiting decisions on several funding applications.

In many countries

The sampling har started not only in Sweden but also in Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey and India for this project. There are also other international platforms such as SCORE network whereas the researchers coordinately share knowledge, protocols, and results. The main attitude is to develop a method and share it to other countries. Until they can do analyses themselves, the project also make analyses for some cities. The information obtained from the analyses, from the wastewater treatment plants and Public Health Agencies (amount of SARS-CoV-2 and other wastewater data and infected population etc.) will be used to develop an estimation tool. 

Results within a month

If the project achieves to develop an early-warning detection approach, they can warn the government before the subsequent waves of Corona. The first samples will be analysed by the end of April, and the first results will be shared within a month.

More information

"Researchers sample sewage to measure infections in six European countries" on

"Testing wastewater to detect waves of COVID-19 infection" on

"Tracking sewage to surveil COVID-19" on

"Ahmedabad: ‘Sewage water tests can signal Covid-19’" in the Times of India

"Kan smittespredning av korona vises i avløpsvann?" in Aftenposten (in Norwegian)

"Avloppsvatten avslöjar virusets spridning" in Forskning & Framsteg (in Swedish)

"Nu testas Stockholms avloppsvatten för att spåra en andra virusvåg" on (in Swedish)

"Coronaviruset ska spåras via avloppsvatten" on (in Swedish)

"Coronavirus ska spåras i avloppsvatten" in SR Vetenskapsradion (in Swedish)

"KTH spårar coronavirus i avlopp" on (in Swedish)


Belongs to: WaterCentre@KTH
Last changed: Apr 15, 2020