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Wastewater viral loads can provide advance warning of COVID-19 outbreaks

Scientists show that there is a close association between clinical cases of COVID-19 and viral loads in wastewater, with the viral loads picking up to two days before the cases were detected.


The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were held during July 21 and September 21, 2021, a time when the incidence and spread of COVID-19 was prevalent. Thus, a rigorous and multi-pronged testing approach was enacted in order to limit the spread of the virus while allowing the Games to proceed.


Following from previous research, a team lead by Associate Professor Masaaki Kitajima at Hokkaido University has shown the association between SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in wastewater and cases reported at the Olympic and Paralympic Village. Their findings were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.


The athletes and support staff at the Olympic and Paralympic Village were tested daily; in addition, wastewater in the sewage system was also sampled and tested (wastewater-based epidemiology, WBE) daily to determine viral loads. The results were reported to the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.



Published in: JAMA Network Open Association of SARS-CoV-2 load in wastewater with reported COVID-19 cases in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village from July to September 2021.


For more information, please see the press release from The institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo.



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