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Sewage could help researchers studying spread of coronavirus

May 20, 2020 GMT

STAFFORD, Va. (AP) — Researchers hope that data collected from wastewater treatment plants will help identify and predict future spreads of the coronavirus.

The Free Lance-Star reported Tuesday that two wastewater treatment plants in Virginia’s Stafford County are among more than 100 across the country taking part in a pilot program.

Metabolites in human waste can serve as an early indicator of the disease before it spreads. Sewage offers useful data without collecting personal identifiable information. It also captures virus data from people who displayed mild symptoms or no symptoms.

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Three other sites in Virginia are participating in the nationwide study. It’s being led by Biobot Analytics of Somerville, Massachusetts. The company declined to name the other Virginia sites that are involved.

Biobot is working on the project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University as well as Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.