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Wastewater Data Mirrored Covid Case Counts During First Omicron Wave

Jul 27, 2023

Early last year, as the United States grappled with a record Covid-19 surge, the levels of coronavirus in a community’s wastewater were closely aligned with two other statistics that measured the toll of virus: local case and hospitalization rates. But by last fall, these measures had fallen out of sync, and the wastewater data was no longer such a good predictor of the officially reported case or hospitalization numbers, according to a new study, which was published in JAMA Network Open on Wednesday.

That finding nonetheless highlights why the wastewater data is so useful, the researchers say. One reason the numbers no longer align, the study’s authors suspect, is that case counts became unreliable, especially as more Americans began taking advantage of at-home Covid tests, while wastewater remained a dependable metric.

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