Test PUP to predict Miami’s COVID-19 trends? It has been a messy process so far

MIAMI – In March, when it became clear that the U.S. Faced with an unprecedented epidemic, Miami-Dade County began sampling its sewers as a potential tool to measure the extent of COVID-19 infection. The hope was that the county pope’s test for coronavirus could serve as an early warning indicator of the second wave of fears expected in the fall.

Now, with cases rising across the country and Florida seeing a steady rise in levels seen since August, what does the sewer system say?

Short answer: not much, at least not yet. The process reached a slow and messy start, but he has cleared the data and there are still some promises that it will work.

Over the months, the county pays 6,600 a week to see if a sewer test can help estimate the prevalence of coronavirus infection in the population. The Miami-Dade Department of Water and Sewerage sends samples of its three wastewater plants to a special laboratory in Boston called Bybot.

The results were to help former mayor Carlos Gimenez and public health experts save lives by moving the virus forward and better preparing the hospital’s infrastructure for surgery. After all, everyone pops, and the dirty water reflects all the people in the community, whether they have the Covid-19 features and have access to the test.

Because coronavirus appears in human waste just a day or two after infection, mining wastewater for COVID-19 data has emerged as another COVID-19 gauge. Used in conjunction with other data, it can help provide an understanding of where the COVID curve can lead.

But while cities like Paris and Boston have integrated wastewater test results into their strategy to combat COVID-19, WASD says the turnover time of test results is not yet fast enough to make it a planning tool in Miami-Dade.

“We need to have more confidence in the data. At this stage the results are copying the test data that is coming to us from the state, ”said Kevin Linsky, director of WASD.

Miami-Dead Water & Sewer takes weekly samples of its wastewater treatment plant in Virginia Key as part of the COVID-19 testing program.

Linsky said biobot data still largely indicates a trend toward the COVID curve, not further to indicate a trend. For example, a recent buyboat analysis of Dead’s sewers shows that the number of cases began to rise in mid-October amid estimates, but no data is yet available after Oct 27 due to delays in sampling by the county.

Problems have arisen on both sides of the process – the collection of samples from the county’s three largest sewer plants and its analysis by bybot.

When sampling began in March, the results were incredible, with spikes and drops, which made no sense when analyzed against the clinical and test data of COVID-19 patients discovered by the Florida Department of Health, Linsky said. Bybot acknowledges that its methods need to be improved after launching the testing program in March.

Until August Gust, Bybot’s algorithm was estimating the prevalence of the virus, or how widespread the disease is in the population. Because the lab was still adjusting its technology well, the results took about two weeks to return, and the testing program was seen as work in progress, Linsky said.

Then in August Gust, Bybot modified its model. His analysis includes more information, including new research on how the virus behaves in dirty water, and has begun to produce results that show the occurrence of new cases, which could point to trends, rather than population cases. Proportionately the moment at a certain time and the company started processing the data more quickly, turning the tests into just a few days.

“We’ve been working with hundreds of communities for months now, so in terms of our understanding of lab methods, virus analysis pipelines are just because of the data sets we’ve set up. , ”Said Nusha Ghaili, President and Co-Founder of Bioboat. “Our sensitivity levels have changed and improved.”

Back in March and April, Biobot would provide data to communities two weeks after taking the samples, a result that was not entirely acceptable, he said. Now the bybot can test the samples in one day and send the result back the next day.

So why aren’t Miami-Dade taking advantage of this quick turn? The last three weeks have been delayed with its own sampling, so no testing by bybot or data since October 27th. WASDA said there has been a delay in receiving the kits from Biobot and is working to get the testing program back on track.

In Boston, meanwhile, the Water and Sewerage Company is making data available and encouraging officials and the public to use it in conjunction with other information to make epidemiological decisions.

In July, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority began posting COVID test results at its Deer Island treatment plant on its website. According to the MWRA, the results have been shared with staff from the Department of Public Health, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Health and Human Services, and the Ministry of Energy and Environment.

“It’s important to note that this is a pilot of evolving science,” the website said. “The results of this study will be used by public health officials as an additional tool to track how epidemics are trending in Massachusetts, along with data from clinical trials, hospitalizations, etc. for the masses.”

Some wastewater sampling programs have also been implemented by other states. Since July, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and the state’s Department of Natural Resources, tests samples of wastewater treatment plants once a week in about 20 counties with 75% of the population. Universities such as Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are also testing their sewers to detect the COVID epidemic in their communities. The University of Miami is also launching its own program, taking sewer samples from various collection points on its campus.

It is not clear if Florida is working on a state-funded program because neither the Department of Health nor the Office of Government Ron Descentis has responded to requests for comment.

At the national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last month that they were launching a national wastewater surveillance system to help public health officials better understand the extent of COVD-19. Infections in communities. “

The CDC is currently developing a portal for state, tribal, local and regional health departments to submit wastewater test data to national databases, which will be used for public health action.

The CDC said the data from wastewater testing is not intended to replace existing COVID-19 surveillance systems, but to provide data for communities where timely COVID-19 clinical testing is used or not available, the CDC said.

Meanwhile, Biobot is using data from cities to study all types of epidemics. For example, Laborat found that people with COV carry a large viral load in their pop in the first few days before infection. So if sewer samples show a significant increase in viral load, it means that an increase in the number of cases could occur in about a week or more.

Statistically, when people are infected with the virus, they will probably show symptoms in four or five days. They may want to test, and if the system does not fill up, test results will probably be available in two or three days. The test result will therefore delay the onset of infection over a period of about a week or more.

If the test is done effectively, it can warn public health officials a little in advance about trends.

Linsky said the county may decide to identify more hot spots and test more targeted sewers for a more grainy view of infection trends.

“We were able to check individual grid points in our system. We can do more localized sampling instead of sampling at the treatment plant, ”he said. “We can do them from a more focused basin and start honoring the place where the infection is more problematic.”


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