West Virginia University standing watch for COVID in wastewater

August 23, 2021
West Virginia U standing watch for COVID in wastewater

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University researchers are taking to the sewers to fight the COVID-19 virus and the mission has evolved.


In 2020, researchers would prop open a manhole cover, dip down a bottle to collect wastewater and then take it to a lab to analyze for the presence of the virus as people shed virus particles through their feces.

The official name of the project is WaTCH-WV (Wastewater Testing for Community Health in West Virginia). Collaborators with Marshall University are also conducting testing in the Huntington area.

With the new academic year, researchers have resumed on-campus sampling, but are using an egg-shaped robot called an autosampler in the sewers that collects samples every 20 minutes over a 24-hour period.

It’s part of a $2.9 million statewide project geared at developing a testing network throughout West Virginia and identifying communities of concern for COVID-19.

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