The presence of particles of the COVID-19 in wastewater could be because someone who has recovered from the viral infection may be still shedding the virus, said a health official.
Fragments of the COVID-19 were found in wastewater collected from Brisbane suburbs of Wynnum and Sandgate as well as Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast in Australia.
The presence of the viral fragments of COVID-19 in sewage water suggests there is undetected community transmission circulating in the south-east, reported Brisbane Times citing Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.
The samples were taken at the Sandgate treatment plant on October 12 and the Maroochydore and Wynnum plants on October 13. The result confirmed the presence of virus fragments, said the report.
The health official, however, said the result has nothing to cause panic. “We have got to remember these positive COVID-19 tests are not people, they are in sewerage,” she said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Young said the reason behind the presence of viral fragments of COVID-19 in wastewater is probably because of someone who has recovered from the viral infection and is still shedding the virus.
An investigation is underway to find out why viral particles of COVID-19 have been found in the sewage water, said the report.
The health official said they have no idea how long someone can continue to shed the virus.
In a similar incident in June, scientists in India had detected genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater. The study, led by scientists in the Indian Institute of Technology (Gandhinagar), found that increased “gene copies" of the virus in Ahmedabad’s wastewater matched the incidence of the disease in Gujarat’s city.
(With inputs from PTI)Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.