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SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance for Public Health Action.

Abstract

Wastewater surveillance for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has garnered extensive public attention during the coronavirus disease pandemic as a proposed complement to existing disease surveillance systems. Over the past year, methods for detection and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in untreated sewage have advanced, and concentrations in wastewater have been shown to correlate with trends in reported cases. Despite the promise of wastewater surveillance, for these measurements to translate into useful public health tools, bridging the communication and knowledge gaps between researchers and public health responders is needed. We describe the key uses, barriers, and applicability of SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance for supporting public health decisions and actions, including establishing ethics consideration for monitoring. Although wastewater surveillance to assess community infections is not a new idea, the coronavirus disease pandemic might be the initiating event to make this emerging public health tool a sustainable nationwide surveillance system, provided that these barriers are addressed.

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