Canal de Isabel II registers intellectual property of Vigía System for COVID detection in wastewater

Canal de Isabel II registra la propiedad intelectual del Sistema Vigía para la detección del COVID en aguas residuales

Canal de Isabel II has registered the Vigía System in the Madrid intellectual property registry, in order to guarantee recognition of the ownership and operating rights for this asset. Vigía is the largest COVID-19 tracking and early warning system developed in Spain to date, in terms of both the number of sampling points (289) and the population studied. The system covers the 179 municipalities of the region, which have a total population of 6.8 million.

Vigía is composed of two fundamental components: the protocol for sample-taking and the physicochemical and genomic analysis of these samples; and analysis and communication of the results to the health authorities on a daily basis and to the general public on a weekly basis.

“This tool has provided such positive results that we have created a permanent alert network with a proprietary genomics laboratory. This will play an important long-term role in predicting, analysing and anticipating potentially adverse scenarios in the future. And all this is thanks to water, an invaluable natural resource which, in this case, has been placed at the service of the health of the people of Madrid”, points out Paloma Martín, President of Canal de Isabel II and Regional Minister for the Environment, Housing and Agriculture.

Since its launch in July 2020, Vigía has played an effective role in the management of the pandemic by the health authorities and has provided an early warning of the 6 waves of the virus in the region. The registration of intellectual property rights reinforces the significance of this project which is the only one of its kind worldwide in terms of size and the population studied.

The registration of Vigía as a scientific work means that Canal de Isabel II has exclusive ownership rights of the system, including rights of reproduction, distribution, public communication and transformation.

In Madrid, sampling in wells and wastewater treatment plants enables 100 % of the population to be screened every week. Since the implementation of the system, over 25,000 analyses have been carried out. Subsequently, the statistically analysed results have been made available to the health authorities to provide early warning of all the different waves of the pandemic. The system provides early data to allow health authorities to improve their epidemiological control strategies.

For over a year, Canal de Isabel II has provided the public with a freely accessible interactive map where they can consult trends in each area, the date of the last validated analysis, an indicator of the presence of the virus and a comparative value of the latest data with respect to the previous data from samples taken at the same point. To date, this map has received more than half a million visits.

In addition to the map, Canal publishes a weekly report summarising the general trend of the presence of the virus in the municipalities of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, the city of Madrid and the weekly variation at the 289 sampling points.


The Vigía system has aroused the interest of institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union; of medical events such as the World Pandemics Forum; of dozens of national and international media; of international delegations; and of prestigious scientific publications such as The Lancet and Environmental Research, amongst others.

Moreover, Canal de Isabel II was recently selected by the EU-WOP programme to develop the VIGÍA System for tracking, monitoring and early warning of COVID-19 in the wastewater systems of the metropolitan areas of Lima and Callao, which have more than nine million inhabitants (30 % of Peru’s population). These systems are managed by Peruvian state-owned company Sedapal.

Related article: Don’t miss the article on Vigía in our magazine!