'Wastewater doesn't lie': MU scientists use sewage to track COVID-19

Jan 11, 2021

MU scientists have been analyzing wastewater from across the state for more than six months to help track the spread of COVID-19 in Missouri communities. Even with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, they don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

What started as a small project now includes over 50 Missouri sewersheds and around 140 samples a week. It also carries a myriad of implications for communal living facilities, variant testing and helping communities know when they’ve truly kicked COVID-19 to the curb.


A strong correlation exists between the amount of RNA, or genetic material, from COVID-19 in wastewater and the number of reported cases in a community, said Marc Johnson, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the MU School of Medicine and one of the scientists leading the wastewater testing effort at MU.

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