Presence of Covid genes in wastewater: After IIT-Gn study, AMC parallel study including freshwater samples


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To contain the panic caused by a recent study which indicated the presence of Covid-19 genes in the waters of Sabarmati Riverfront, Chandola and Kankaria lakes, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) launched another study not only on wastewater but also on the water treatment plants supplying water to the inhabitants of the city.

Sources revealed that the parallel study by the civic body and the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Center (GBRC) had samples collected from six sewage bodies and three freshwater treatment plants.

These include these three water bodies – Sabarmati Riverfront, Chandola and Kankaria Lake – which were also covered by a recent study by the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn) funded by UNICEF which has detected the presence of laboratory genes N, S and ORF of SARS – CoV-2, as well as samples taken from the Vasna sewage treatment plant and the Motera pumping station. AMC collected samples from two locations along the Sabarmati River, near the Sardar Bridge and the Nehru Bridge.

Freshwater samples are taken at Kotarpur Water Treatment Plant, Jaspur Water Treatment Plant and Raska Water Treatment Plant. This would be the first time that such a study has been conducted on fresh water supplied to residents of the city of Ahmedabad.

Confirming the development, Harpalsinh Zala, municipal engineer in charge of AMC, told the Sunday Express: “This parallel study is being proactively conducted from these wastewater bodies following the publication of the recent IIT-Gn study. Testing is performed by the GBRC as we do not have a testing facility. “

Regarding the tests carried out on the fresh water of the water treatment plants, Zala said, “This is done to independently confirm and establish the previous study. There is no reason for the residents to be afraid.

Raw water from Narmada Main Canal, Dholka Secondary Canal and Shedhi Secondary Canal as well as groundwater through boreholes are treated by different water treatment plants and converted into portable water according to Central Organization of Public Health and Environmental Engineering (CPHEEO) standards by AMC’s water projects department. . Water from the main source of the main city-Narmada canal is treated at the Kotarpur water treatment plant, while the Jaspur water treatment plant treats the water from the secondary Dholka canal and the water of the secondary Shedhi canal is treated at the Raska water treatment plant.

The recent study with IIT-Gn faculty member from the Department of Earth Sciences, Professor Manish Kumar, as lead author, said that although it is not known that genes found in the edge of the Sabarmati river, lakes Chandola and Kankaria were alive or not, but further research needed to confirm the findings. The study which was published last month, showing the presence of the genes, was however scary.

Professor Kumar told The Indian Express: “During the testing process, the virus is precipitated from samples (water) and destroyed so that an RT-PCR test can be performed there. Thus, during the extraction process, they are destroyed. Thus, the percentage of genes that are dead or alive must be studied. “

Prior to that, three similar studies were conducted with Professor Kumar as the lead author. Previous studies reported by The Indian Express included monitoring wastewater on the same-genome concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, conducted last year that found a higher concentration of the virus in samples collected in early November. , particularly in Motera, Ranip and eastern parts of the Odhav and Satyam pump station areas, and warned of an increase in cases the city finally saw nearly two weeks later.

Co-authored by Professor Madhvi Joshi from Gujarat Biotechnology Research Center (GBRC), Anil Shah from Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Vaibhav Srivastava from IIT-Gandhinagar and Shyamnarayan Dave from UNICEF Gujarat, the study notes, however that there was “no concrete relationship between the RNA of the virus and the number of daily cases”.

The study also argued that the model based on wastewater monitoring for the early prediction of epidemics (SWEEP), covering both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic patients, can help with city zoning and identification of hot spots in relation to clinical surveillance, which “hardly classifies the city into specific areas where more testing or attention is required”.

On March 17, 2021, the European Commission (EC) in a communication to the European Parliament and the European Council, recommended monitoring the presence of the new coronavirus in wastewater across the European Union. “Wastewater monitoring can be used for preventive or early warning purposes, as virus detection in wastewater is a sign of the possible re-emergence of the virus,” the EC communication said.

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