The mean concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in the sewage water It is at the lowest level since the end of the summer of 2020, according to the latest data collected by VATar-COVID-19, a microbiological surveillance tool developed by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) and the Ministry of Health jointly with the Autonomous Communities.
This positive trend coincides with the good results of the vaccination and de-escalation process in Spain
Specifically, the concentration of virus RNA in wastewater stabilizes or decreases in 75% of the currently controlled treatment plants, with the exception of small increases due, in part, to rainfall associated in the last days in 10 of the 38 wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) distributed throughout the national territory.
This positive trend coincides with the good results of the vaccination and de-escalated in Spain. Although the results obtained do not allow determining the number of people infected, a correlation is observed between the increase / decrease in the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and the increase / decrease / stability in the number of people who test positive for COVID -19.
Since its launch in July 2020, VATar-COVID-19 allows weekly sampling and analysis of wastewater at the entrance to the WWTP that are part of the project. Today, it is reaffirmed as a useful tool for health authorities in managing the pandemic.
As can be seen in the weekly reports available on the MITECO website, the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 has varied in a similar way throughout the different waves suffered, until reaching the lowest level in the mean values since the end of summer 2020.
The results of the project are sent weekly to the Ministry of Health and the health authorities of the Autonomous Communities and Hydrographic Confederations.
A pioneering and replicable tool in Europe
The usefulness of this tool as an indicator of the evolution of the pandemic and its pioneering nature has led the European Commission to publish Commission Recommendation (EU) 2021/472 of March 17, 2021 on a common approach to establish systematic surveillance SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in EU wastewater.
Member States are encouraged to establish as soon as possible, and no later than October 1, 2021, a national wastewater monitoring system for the collection of data on SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in waters residual
The main objective is to help Member States to set up wastewater monitoring systems across the Union as a complementary tool for data collection and management of pandemic of covid-19, focusing on the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants.
In addition, Member States are encouraged to establish as soon as possible, and no later than 1 October 2021, a national system of surveillance of wastewater for the collection of data on SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in wastewater. It also establishes that the monitoring system must include, as a minimum, wastewater from large cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants.
Spain has gone one step ahead since this project started in July 2020. Given the importance and the good results obtained, MITECO is preparing a second phase of the VATar-COVID-19 project according to the European Commission calendar, in which the number of treatment plants is expanded and virus variants are measured following community recommendations.
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