IntroductionSevere acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the etiological agent of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). People infected with SARS-CoV-2 may exhibit no or mild non-specific symptoms; thus, they may contribute to silent circulation of the virus among humans. Since SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in stool samples, monitoring SARS-CoV-2 RNA in waste water (WW) has been proposed as a complementary tool to investigate virus circulation in human populations.AimTo test if the quantification of SARS-CoV-2 genomes in WW correlates with the number of symptomatic or non-symptomatic carriers.MethodWe performed a time-course quantitative analysis of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-qPCR in raw WW samples collected from several major WW treatment plants in Greater Paris. The study period was 5 March to 23 April 2020, including the lockdown period in France (from 17 March).ResultsWe showed that the increase of genome units in raw WW accurately followed the increase of human COVID-19 cases observed at the regional level. Of note, the viral genome could be detected before the epidemic grew massively (around 8 March). Equally importantly, a marked decrease in the quantities of genome units was observed concomitantly with the reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases, 29 days following the lockdown.ConclusionThis work suggests that a quantitative monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 genomes in WW could generate important additional information for improved monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 circulation at local or regional levels and emphasises the role of WW-based epidemiology.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; lockdown; quantification; waste water.