Wastewater viral genome sequencing may provide an early warning system for emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 that is independent of identified clinical case investigations, according to a new study published in mSystems, an open access journal of the American Society of Microbiology. In the study, the researchers described the detection and quantification of variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the south-east of England, in sewer samples from London, UK, before the widespread transmission of ‘this variant was obvious from clinical cases.
“Sewage sampling and environmental monitoring provide you with a quick and accurate picture of what is happening with the coronavirus in the human population. Most people who are infected but show no symptoms do not get tested for the virus. Sewage sampling provides information on all people, including asymptomatic individuals, so that it better reflects the circulation of the virus among humans, “said the study’s lead researcher, Javier Martin, Ph.D. Virology Division, National Institute of Biology Standards and Control, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, UK viral genome sequencing provides a less skewed picture of virus circulation patterns among humans, how different variants predominate over time, and how changes in strain predominance occur. “
In the new study, to assess the value of environmental monitoring for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, researchers analyzed sewer samples collected in London between January 14, 2020 and January 26, 2021 to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2. They had to distinguish the SARS-CoV-2 genetic signal from the billions of bacteria and viruses that people excrete every day. “When we received a sample, we concentrated it using standard methods and then used PCR amplification and next-generation sequencing targeting different regions of the genome to detect different genetic signatures characteristic of the different known variants.” said Dr. Martin.
The researchers first detected variant B.1.1.7 in a sample in early November 2020, a few weeks before it was first noticed by clinical surveillance, and found that the frequency of B.1.1 mutations .7 detected in wastewater increased rapidly to> 95% in January 2021, in line with the increase in BS.1.7-associated SARS-CoV-2 infections.
“Here we show how SARS-CoV-2 environmental monitoring can be used to help us understand virus Transmission patterns and provide early warning of the prevailing variants in the population, “said Dr. Martin.” We will continue to monitor the different variants focusing on those with high potential transmissibility and / or immune evasion properties. Our results contribute to better control of the epidemic and to future changes in vaccine design if necessary. ”
American Society of Microbiology
Citation: Wastewater sequencing can help control SARS-VOC-2 variants (2021, June 15) retrieved June 16, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-sequencing- wastewater-sars-cov-variants.html
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