Variant-specific SARS-CoV-2 shedding rates in wastewater

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Jan 20;857(Pt 1):159165. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159165. Epub 2022 Oct 3.


Previous studies show that SARS-CoV-2 waste shedding rates vary by community and are influenced by multiple factors; however, differences in shedding rates across multiple variants have yet to be evaluated. The purpose of this work is to build on previous research that evaluated waste shedding rates for early SARS-CoV-2 and the Delta variant, and update population level waste shedding rates for the more-recent Omicron variant in six communities. Mean SARS-CoV-2 waste shedding rates were found to increase with the predominance of the Delta variant and subsequently decrease with Omicron infections. Interestingly, the Delta stage had the highest mean shedding rates and was associated with the most severe disease symptoms reported in other clinical studies, while Omicron, exhibiting reduced symptoms, had the lowest mean shedding rates. Additionally, shedding rates were most consistent across communities during the Omicron stage. This is the first paper to identify waste shedding rates specific to the Omicron variant and fills a knowledge gap critical to disease prevalence modeling.

Keywords: COVID-19; Delta; Omicron; SARS-CoV-2 variants; Waste shedding rates; Wastewater-based epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Wastewater


  • Waste Water

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants