Wastewater was a critically important data source in the fight against COVID19. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) or next generation sequencing (NGS) can be used to track human pathogens in wastewater. This information can be used to determine if a certain pathogen is present in a community, if its levels are increasing (or decreasing) and, combined with other epidemiological data, can help better understand its circulation in the population.
This approach is not unique to the COVID19 virus. It can be used for potentially any pathogen which is eliminated through faeces and/or urine. This approach has been used to monitor the circulation of other viruses, such as the poliovirus, and also to assess antimicrobial resistance (AMR).