Wastewater based Epidemiology (Biomarker CoV-2)

Analysis of SARS-CoV-2-biomarkers to assess COVID-19 infections at a population scale

Sewage samples can provide indications of hotspots of infection with the SARS-CoV2 virus.

SARS-CoV-2-biomarkers can be used to detect changes in the course of infection at an early stage and to estimate the number of undetected COVID-19 cases and the course of infections.

Recent studies in COVID-19 patients show that infected patients excrete SARS-CoV-2 with the stool in relatively high concentrations. Therefore, SARS-CoV-2-biomarkers can be used to detect not only early changes in the infection pattern, to estimate the number of COVID-19 infected people with asymptomic effects, but also to assess the overall infection pattern in a community including the efficacy of counter measures as part of wastewater based epidemiology (WBE).

The main goals of this study are

a) the development of quantitative methods for the identification of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses in raw sewage

b) a comprehensive assessment of the infection pattern at a population level using WBE based on a novel SARS-CoV-2 biomarker model

c) the development and validation of strategies to identify local infection hot spots in a community

d) the exact assessment and prediction of COVID-19 infections in a community based on the PCR-analysis of enveloped viruses in municipal wastewater, as well as

e) the transfer of the developed strategy and biomarker model to other pathogenic viruses.

The developed WBE strategy will be expanded to other pathogenic viruses. In addition, based on the developed WBE strategy we will provide guidance regarding appropriate sampling strategies, analysis and the assessment of positive results for health officials and local decision makers.


Ho, J.; Stange, C.; Suhrborg, R.; Wurzbacher, C.; Drewes, J.E.; Tiehm, A.: SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance in Germany: Long-term RT-digital droplet PCR monitoring, suitability of primer/probe combinations and biomarker stability. Water research 210: 117977 (2022) DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117977 (PDF-file)

Stange C., Ho J., Tiehm A.: Nachweisverfahren und Relevanz von SARS-Coronavirus-2 in der Wasserwirtschaft. KA Korrespondenz Abwasser, Abfall 68, 1: 29–39 (2021)

Stange C., Ho J., Tiehm A.SARS-CoV-2 im Kontext der Wasserversorgung. DVGW energie | wasser-praxis (EWP), 12/2020: 50–55 (2020)

Stange C., Ho J., Tiehm A.SARS-CoV-2 im Kontext der Wasserversorgung. Veröffentlichungen aus dem Technologiezentrum Wasser, ISSN 1434-5765, TZW-Band 93 (2020)

The volumes of the TZW publications can be ordered here.