Wastewater monitoring in COVID-19 surveillance

20 December, 2020



Analyzing wastewater for the SARS-CoV-2 virus could provide an early warning system that the virus is spreading in a community

Wastewater monitoring in COVID-19 surveillance 

Microbiologist Peiying Hong explains current research into COVID-19 monitoring and surveillance using wastewater.





Several research groups around the world are analyzing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Studies show that the virus can be detected in the feces of some infected patients. There is hope that "wastewater-based epidemiology" could hold promise for monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks in communities.

To understand more about the potential of this research, KAUST Discovery spoke with Peiying Hong, an applied environmental microbiologist at KAUST. Hong has conducted years of research monitoring microbial contaminants in wastewater and reclaimed waters, including bacteria, viruses and genes.



  1. Jumat, M.R., Hasan, N.A., Subramanian, P., Heberling, C., Colwell, R.R. & Hong, P.Y. Membrane bioreactor-based wastewater treatment plant in Saudi Arabia: Reduction of viral diversity, load, and infectious capacity. Water 9, 534 (2017).| article