Interviewer: Professor Jordan Peccia,
thank you very much for
taking the time to do this interview
with us today to discuss novel and
ingenious ways of predicting
future COVID-19 outbreaks, and
also the means of anticipating their
resulting public health responses.
Let me start by asking about
your recently published work,
which showed the possibility of
testing local sewage water for
levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA as
markers of impending outbreaks.
Can you explain a little bit about how
this is measured and what you have found?
Prof. Peccia: We're able to measure
the virus that causes COVID-19,
which is called SARS-CoV-2 in sewage,
in a similar manner to the way that
the virus is measured if you go in to take
an individual test to see if you're
infected or not with the virus.
The name of the test is called a Reverse
Transcriptase Quantitative PCR Assay.
What that does is it detects the very
specific parts of the viral RNA in
the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
We're not only able to detect
that virus specifically, but
we're able to quantify the concentration
of the virus in the sewage.
Now we aren't able to quantify whether
it's alive or whether it's dead,
just whether the DNA, or
rather the RNA in this case, is there.
When we did so in the sewage sludge in
Southern Connecticut in the city I live
in which is called New Haven, we were
able to determine that as the cases rose,
we were also able to see that
the viral concentration rose.
Now that we're on the other side of the
outbreak and the cases start to decline,