Human feces could be key to determining when coronavirus lockdowns end, scientists say

Nation/World
The coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, shown in purple, infects a cell, colored in green. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

The coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, shown in purple, infects a cell, colored in green. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Every day, millions of Americans could be flushing critical coronavirus data down the toilet.

With the nation growing ever more weary of sweeping stay-at-home orders and a worsening economy, some scientists say our poop could be the key to determining when a community might consider easing health restrictions.

From Stanford to the University of Arizona, from Australia to Paris, teams of researchers have been ramping up wastewater analyses to track the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Initial studies show that sewage monitoring, or “wastewater-based-epidemiology,” could not only tell us how much the virus might actually be spreading in a community — but also when the virus has finally gone away.

Understanding the true scaleof COVID-19 has been a major stumbling block across the country, as officials struggle with testing shortagesfalse negatives, and people who are infected but have no symptoms. Sewage data could potentially help fill these gaps by capturing critical information in the aggregate.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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