Yet Another COVID-19 Surge? Wastewater Samples Suggest That Yes, We May Be in for Another Wave

While it may be just an outlier, the CDC confirms that wastewater samples from a third of the country’s sampling sites are showing rising case counts while China and Europe are seeing wide COVID swings.

I know I’m not the only one looking at the spikes in COVID-19 cases in China and Europeand said to myself, “Damn, here we go again.” Especially in the UK, the new BA.2 variant is responsible for one 48% increase in cases in just a week, just like her restrictions lifted – although there are other factors to consider, including low intake of boosters, wintry weather urging people indoors, and low vaccination rates of people aged 18 to 39.

Here in the US everyone by President Biden to Mayor of San Francisco London Breed is keen to get everyone back into the office, and you have to be wondering if that could lead to the same old shit we saw with the delta rise last summer and the December/January Omicron rise.

We mention shit because monitoring human waste is one of our most effective tools for assessing the presence of COVID-19. And NBC News reports that there is Increase in COVID-19 detected in wastewater in one-third of the communities where the CDC has sample sites. “A third of the agency’s wastewater sampling sites showed an increase in Covid cases from March 1-10,” according to NBC News.

Here in the Bay Area, public health professionals are sounding the alarm.

“We see a tsunami coming right off our coast,” Dr. John Swartzberg of UC Berkeley Public Health said KPIX. “As the amount of virus in sewage increases, it’s time to be really concerned that in a week, two weeks or three weeks we may see an increase in cases.”

And this could be powered by the newer Omicron subvariant BA.2.

Image: CDC

Fortunately, the number of cases has fallen in the Bay Areaand the US overall. But the map above shows that Wastewater sites that the CDC monitors, and any dots that are yellow, orange, or red indicate areas where we are seeing an increase in cases. This could be a sign of big trouble, or these could be blips on some radars.

“While wastewater levels are generally very low, we are seeing an increase in sites reporting an increase,” Amy Kirby of the CDC’s wastewater monitoring program said in a statement to NBC News. “These bumps may simply reflect a minor rise from very low levels to still low levels.”

However, whenever we have seen surges in a country, they usually repeat themselves. What started in China with the original SARS-CoV-2 has made its way here. The Delta variant in India has found its way here. The Omicron variant in South Africa found its way here.

And there’s evidence that the BA.2 variant is powering something in California and elsewhere. As ABC 7 reportsthe new variant – thought to be about 30% more infectious than the already highly infectious Omicron variant – is showing up in increasing numbers in sewage from San Francisco and elsewhere in the state.

Experts don’t think this will result in a large wave, especially here in the Bay Area, but future cases could see a late surge in the pandemic.

Alexandria Boehm, a professor of environmental engineering at Stanford University, tells ABC 7 that the increase in BA.2 is noticeable in recent wastewater samples from San Francisco and Oceanside, but remains small.

“Up until this last week, where we also had this little bump in the wastewater concentration, or BA.2,” Boehm says. “If you look at the big picture of things, we’ve kind of gone under quite a bit.”

The current US hotspot for BA.2 seems to be Chicago – and experts say there’s no evidence BA.2 is more virulent than the regular Omicron strain.

“It will slowly but surely overtake omicron,” says Dr. Warner Greene, chief investigator at the Gladstone Institutes, speaks to ABC 7. “It’s moving more slowly, but it’s still likely to become the world’s dominant variant.”

Related: San Francisco will drop vaccination requirements for bars and restaurants starting Friday

Image: @jkoblitz via Unsplash

Yet Another COVID-19 Surge? Wastewater Samples Suggest That Yes, We May Be in for Another Wave Source link Yet Another COVID-19 Surge? Wastewater Samples Suggest That Yes, We May Be in for Another Wave

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