What is wastewater COVID testing, and how does it work?

Nov 30, 2020

SYRACUSE — Testing has been one of the main tools used by local and state governments to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, and the Syracuse-based company Quadrant Biosciences is at the cutting edge of test development.

Quadrant, a private research laboratory embedded in Upstate Medical University, has been working since March to develop a series of tests that can detect signs of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.


Quadrant currently has three testing procedures available: wastewater testing; group testing; and individual tests. In August, Jefferson County was one of the first local governments in the state to enter into an agreement with Quadrant to have the wastewater for the city of Watertown tested for signs of the virus. According to Edward Heslop, president of viral testing for Quadrant, wastewater testing provides an excellent opportunity to monitor the prevalence of the virus in a community, and can catch signs of viral spread up to a week earlier than nose-swab testing is able to.

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