200 milliliters twice a week – that’s what the scientists would need as a sample, that’s what the scientists have agreed on. If 200 milliliters of water were taken from as many sewage treatment plants in Germany as possible twice a week and tested for corona viruses in the laboratory, then the blind flight that Germany is heading towards in terms of the spread of infection would be averted. With wastewater monitoring, it is relatively cheap and easy to get an overview of the spread of the virus.
Scientists even assume that this data allows a closer look at the infection process than is the case with more or less voluntary tests. After all, everyone has to go to the toilet, regardless of whether an infection is asymptomatic or a test is mandatory.
And the tiny viral components that reveal a corona infection are excreted up to seven days before the onset of symptoms. Municipalities could, as the saying goes, “get ahead of the virus” – i.e. recognize accumulations of infection before half the teaching staff in a school or the nurses, nurses and doctors in the emergency room fail.
The “two times 200 method” seems to be a good predictive model. Scientists calculate that if the 100 largest sewage treatment plants in Germany used them, it would cost tens of thousands of euros a week. It’s not nothing, but it’s worth the price compared to expensive mass tests with little valid results.
Wastewater monitoring is already being used in Austria, the Netherlands and other countries – so there are empirical values. If wastewater monitoring is not implemented in the coming weeks, the government will fly blindly into the coming autumn.
However, if such monitoring were actually to become reality, instructions for action would also have to be provided quickly: Information on what should actually happen with which results of the “Two times 200 method”. For example, if a sample is saturated with corona, many people are infected. However, action would only have to be taken if the variants currently circulating are pathogenic at all.
The summer wave is currently going strong, but the clinics are still working, and thanks to the summer holidays, there are hardly any lessons in the schools. But if politicians continue to fail to implement a good surveillance system, autumn could become chaotic again.
Because Corona is not over, and with BA.2.75 the next Omicron sub-line has already appeared in India. Not much is known about her traits yet – but she seems to have the potential to take over the world.