Community-Based SARS-CoV-2 Testing Using Saliva or Nasopharyngeal Swabs to Compare the Performance of Weekly COVID-19 Screening to Wastewater SARS-CoV-2 Signals

Zhengchun Lu, Amanda E. Brunton, Maedeh Mohebnasab, Anthony Deloney, Kenneth J. Williamson, Blythe A. Layton, Scott Mansell, Alice Brawley-Chesworth, Peter Abrams, Kimberly A. Wilcox, F. Abron Franklin, Shannon K. McWeeney, Daniel N. Streblow, Guang Fan, Donna E. Hansel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Multiple studies worldwide have confirmed that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA can be detected in wastewater. However, there is a lack of data directly comparing the wastewater SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration with the prevalence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in individuals living in sewershed areas. Here, we correlate wastewater SARS-CoV-2 signals with SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals and compare positivity rates in two underserved communities in Portland, Oregon to those reported in greater Multnomah County. 403 individuals were recruited via two COVID-19 testing sites over a period of 16 weeks. The weekly SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate in our cohort ranged from 0 to 21.7% and trended higher than symptomatic positivity rates reported by Multnomah County (1.9-8.7%). Among the 362 individuals who reported symptom status, 76 were symptomatic and 286 were asymptomatic. COVID-19 was detected in 35 participants: 24 symptomatic, 9 asymptomatic, and 2 of unknown symptomatology. Wastewater testing yielded 0.33-149.9 viral RNA genomic copies/L/person and paralleled community COVID-19 positive test rates. In conclusion, wastewater sampling accurately identified increased SARS-CoV-2 within a community. Importantly, the rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity in underserved areas is higher than positivity rates within the County as a whole, suggesting a disproportionate burden of SARS-CoV-2 in these communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1667-1677
Number of pages11
JournalACS ES and T Water
Volume2
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 14 2022

Keywords

  • SARS-CoV-2 PCR
  • community testing
  • wastewater-based epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology

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