It might not be treasure, but people's waste is proving to indeed be valuable to others.
A new wastewater analysis process may help determine whether a population of people have COVID-19. The disease can be present in people's waste before they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. The testing cannot determine which individual in the test sample has the virus, but it can indicate the prevalence of the disease in a given population of people.
Newsha Ghaeli, who co-founded one of the companies analyzing wastewater, Biobot, recently explained the process on The Daily Show.
Several places are doing this testing. For example, in Denver, samples are collected twice a week from pipes that serve one million people. Additional research needs to be conducted to determine what level of the virus in the wastewater would need to change to amount to a meaningful signal, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said according to a Denver Post article.
This research is part of a recent trend of scientists finding value in wastewater.
"Studies in Europe found a correlation between the concentration of the new coronavirus in wastewater and the number of cases in a community. The research is part of a trend off viewing wastewater as useful,” Metro Wastewater Reclamation District Director of Strategy and Innovation Jim McQuarrie said in the Denver Post article.