Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev study Israel’s sewage sources to determine future COVID-19 outbreaks; They believe this proactive study will allow them to be better prepared should a second wave hit.
In what some might consider a rather unorthodox approach, Israeli scientists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) are doing preemptive research on sewage water in order to prepare for future outbreaks of COVID-19. They believe this study will help Israel to be even better prepared should a second wave of COVID-19 surface.
What you may not know is that this is not the first time that the Israelis have studied sewage to better understand a virus. Yakir Berchenko of BGU’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Management was able to follow a virus in 2013 amid an outbreak in Israel’s sewage system.
Representative of the department of desalination and water treatment at BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Dr. Oded Nir, explained why they’ve been studying human feces during the pandemic stating, “Our goal is to establish an early warning method because it was shown that the virus can be spotted in feces and sewage two to three days before symptoms start to appear.”
What they’ve still yet to identify is just how long the virus remains contagious in the sewage system. They’re also investigating the rate at which humans shed the virus through fecal matter. What they do know is that it begins several days before an individual shows symptoms, assuming they’ll show any symptoms at all.
The method of monitoring wastewater is also a useful approach for a region that may not have very good access to test kits. While individual test kits provide more accurate data, testing sewage water will allow them to examine how widespread the virus is, which will indicate whether they need to take further precautionary measures or not. On the flip side, if an outbreak has already occurred, they can test the fecal matter as a gauge on a regular basis to see if there is a decrease in the area.
In a separate interview, Professor in the civil and environmental engineering department of Israel’s Technion technology institute, Eran Friedler, explained the effectiveness of testing fecal matter. He stated how “Such a system will make it possible to test entire populations and compare the strength of various signals in the presence of the virus and focus on high-infection areas.”
In the end, this allows health officials to act in a proactive manner regarding potential high-risk regions.
To date, Israel has maintained a high rate of success when it comes the coronavirus. They also acted resourcefully, creating unique ways of obtaining test kits throughout the pandemic. Now producing a one-minute test kit which has a success rate of 90%, and leading the way when it comes to providing a cure as well as effective disinfectants, Israel is unquestionably the most prepared country in the region for whatever comes next.