Wastewater-based SARS-CoV-2 surveillance enables unbiased and comprehensive monitoring of defined sewersheds. We performed real-time monitoring of hospital wastewater that differentiated Delta and Omicron variants within total SARS-CoV-2-RNA, enabling correlation to COVID-19 cases from three tertiary-care facilities with >2100 inpatient beds in Calgary, Canada. RNA was extracted from hospital wastewater between August/2021 and January/2022, and SARS-CoV-2 quantified using RT-qPCR. Assays targeting R203M and R203K/G204R established the proportional abundance of Delta and Omicron, respectively. Total and variant-specific SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater was compared to data for variant specific COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital-acquired infections, and outbreaks. Ninety-six percent (188/196) of wastewater samples were SARS-CoV-2 positive. Total SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in wastewater increased in tandem with total prevalent cases (Delta plus Omicron). Variant-specific assessments showed this increase to be mainly driven by Omicron. Hospital-acquired cases of COVID-19 were associated with large spikes in wastewater SARS-CoV-2 and levels were significantly increased during outbreaks relative to nonoutbreak periods for total SARS-CoV2, Delta and Omicron. SARS-CoV-2 in hospital wastewater was significantly higher during the Omicron-wave irrespective of outbreaks. Wastewater-based monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants represents a novel tool for passive COVID-19 infection surveillance, case identification, containment, and potentially to mitigate viral spread in hospitals.
|Journal||Journal of Medical Virology|
|Publication status||Published - Feb. 2023|
- hospital-acquired infection
- variant of concern
- wastewater-based surveillance