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Review

Wastewater-Based Epidemiology for Cost-Effective Mass Surveillance of COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Challenges and Opportunities

1
Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, United Nations University, 5 Chome-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-8925, Japan
2
Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Masaaki Kitajima, Eiji Haramoto and Abasiofiok Mark Ibekwe
Water 2021, 13(20), 2897; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202897
Received: 16 August 2021 / Revised: 5 October 2021 / Accepted: 12 October 2021 / Published: 15 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health-Related Water Microbiology and Wastewater-Based Epidemiology)
Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an approach that can be used to estimate COVID-19 prevalence in the population by detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA in wastewater. As the WBE approach uses pooled samples from the study population, it is an inexpensive and non-invasive mass surveillance method compared to individual testing. Thus, it offers a good complement in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) facing high costs of testing or social stigmatization, and it has a huge potential to monitor SARS-CoV-2 and its variants to curb the global COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this review is to systematize the current evidence about the application of the WBE approach in mass surveillance of COVID-19 infection in LMICs, as well as its future potential. Among other parameters, population size contributing the fecal input to wastewater is an important parameter for COVID-19 prevalence estimation. It is easier to back-calculate COVID-19 prevalence in the community with centralized wastewater systems, because there can be more accurate estimates about the size of contributing population in the catchment. However, centralized wastewater management systems are often of low quality (or even non-existent) in LMICs, which raises a major concern about the ability to implement the WBE approach. However, it is possible to mobilize the WBE approach, if large areas are divided into sub-areas, corresponding to the existing wastewater management systems. In addition, a strong coordination between stakeholders is required for estimating population size respective to wastewater management systems. Nevertheless, further international efforts should be leveraged to strengthen the sanitation infrastructures in LMICs, using the lessons gathered from the current COVID-19 pandemic to be prepared for future pandemics. View Full-Text
Keywords: mass surveillance; poor sanitation coverage; SARS-CoV-2 variants; prevalence of infection; wastewater management system; policy making mass surveillance; poor sanitation coverage; SARS-CoV-2 variants; prevalence of infection; wastewater management system; policy making
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MDPI and ACS Style

Shrestha, S.; Yoshinaga, E.; Chapagain, S.K.; Mohan, G.; Gasparatos, A.; Fukushi, K. Wastewater-Based Epidemiology for Cost-Effective Mass Surveillance of COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Challenges and Opportunities. Water 2021, 13, 2897. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202897

AMA Style

Shrestha S, Yoshinaga E, Chapagain SK, Mohan G, Gasparatos A, Fukushi K. Wastewater-Based Epidemiology for Cost-Effective Mass Surveillance of COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Challenges and Opportunities. Water. 2021; 13(20):2897. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202897

Chicago/Turabian Style

Shrestha, Sadhana, Emi Yoshinaga, Saroj K. Chapagain, Geetha Mohan, Alexandros Gasparatos, and Kensuke Fukushi. 2021. "Wastewater-Based Epidemiology for Cost-Effective Mass Surveillance of COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Challenges and Opportunities" Water 13, no. 20: 2897. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202897

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