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Problem Tech Solves

Tech Brief

COVID-19 clinical testing and hospitalization data present a narrow and delayed snapshot into the spread of the virus within a community. This data also does not fully account for asymptomatic cases, which constitute a high proportion of any given infected population. Moreover, we can only measure what we test, so those who do not have access to testing are not included in the official statistics. Biobot uses wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to augment clinical data for tracking community spread of COVID-19. Infected individuals shed SARS-CoV-2 in their stool regardless of whether they have symptoms. Moreover, infected individuals shed most frequently immediately after contracting COVID-19 — and start shedding an average of seven days before exhibiting symptoms. Wastewater data has been shown to be a reliable leading indicator of COVID-19 cases, and can thus provide an early warning for cases that will be diagnosed and reported in a community several days later. In the near term, WBE will be critical in continuing to allocate COVID-19 testing resources and identify areas with low participation in vaccination efforts. In the longer term, WBE will help nations predict and respond to influenza outbreaks, track antimicrobial resistance, improve public health equity, and thwart the next infectious disease outbreak before it becomes an epidemic.

Tech Differentiators

Wastewater testing collects information from groups of people, while clinical testing collects information from individuals. With WBE, Biobot provides a smart, proactive complement to existing public health infrastructure (e.g. wastewater testing and clinical testing go hand-in-hand). Wastewater-based tests often act as a leading indicator of an outbreak in a community, compared to clinical testing, for three key reasons: Biology: Depending on the disease, virus can be shed in stool before individuals begin to experience symptoms, and individuals often don’t seek clinical tests until they start to feel sick. Logistics: It is not feasible or practical to conduct a clinical test every day on every individual in a community. Wastewater-based testing can be conducted daily and, in most cases, can be incorporated into routine wastewater operational procedures. Equity: Wastewater-based tests better represent the community as a whole. Each test represents every individual in the community that has used a toilet connected to a sewer, independent of where they live, whether they experience symptoms, or whether they have the time, money or access to clinical testing. Wastewater-based and clinical tests have a symbiotic relationship. Both data sources have their limitations, but when used together they provide independent confirmation of what is happening in a community. Wastewater-based tests can identify hidden infection hotspots in communities, which can then focus clinical testing efforts and community outreach programs and make both more efficient and impactful.



Why Us