Sewage Smarts Wastewater Monitoring Offers Effective Surveillance of Coronavirus Outbreaks

With many public health departments days or weeks behind in reporting infection numbers, Germany lacks an accurate overall view of pandemic developments. Other countries, like Canada, are better off because they test wastewater, allowing them to quickly detect outbreaks as they unfold.
A sewage treatment facility in Frankfurt, Germany: Wastewater tests have previously proven their effectiveness in monitoring polioviruses and cocaine use.

A sewage treatment facility in Frankfurt, Germany: Wastewater tests have previously proven their effectiveness in monitoring polioviruses and cocaine use.

Foto:

ollo / Getty Images

DER SPIEGEL 2/2022
SPIEGEL International
A wastewater sample at a research institute in Berlin's KWB water research center

A wastewater sample at a research institute in Berlin's KWB water research center

Foto: Stephanie Pilick / dpa
A biologist preparing sewage samples at a laboratory at the Division of Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine at the Medical Center of the University of Munich.

A biologist preparing sewage samples at a laboratory at the Division of Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine at the Medical Center of the University of Munich.

Foto: Lukas Barth / REUTERS
Not everyone who is infected gets tested, but everyone goes to the bathroom.
A coffeeshop in Amsterdam: Monitoring wastewater has proven effective in tracking drug usage, among other things.

A coffeeshop in Amsterdam: Monitoring wastewater has proven effective in tracking drug usage, among other things.

Foto: © Michael Kooren / Reuters/ REUTERS
The Robert Koch Institute's Corona-Datenspende app collects pulses, sleeping patterns and other vital data that can help track and monitor mass infections.

The Robert Koch Institute's Corona-Datenspende app collects pulses, sleeping patterns and other vital data that can help track and monitor mass infections.

Foto: Jens Schicke/ imago images/Jens Schicke
Berchtesgaden with a view of Watzmann Mountain, Germany's second highest peak at 2,713 meters (8,901 feet)

Berchtesgaden with a view of Watzmann Mountain, Germany's second highest peak at 2,713 meters (8,901 feet)

Foto:

Lino Mirgeler / dpa