Canal de Isabel II to publish weekly VIGÍA system data on presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater

Canal de Isabel II’s VIGÍA system will offer a map with data on the presence of the virus in the municipalities of the region and districts in the city of Madrid.

Canal de Isabel II will publish weekly data on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in the region. A map with the different municipalities of the region and districts of the city of Madrid will provide citizens with information on virus presence and trends in the selected area

The announcement was made by Paloma Martín, the Regional Minister of the Environment, Territorial Planning and Sustainability, and President of Canal de Isabel II. Speaking at the presentation of this visual tool at the publicly-owned company’s Control Centre in Majadahonda, she described it as “a further consultation instrument that provides residents of Madrid with information on virus trends in the districts in which they live and work, or in other districts of interest to them”. 

Those responsible for the VIGIA system for early detection of SARS CoV-2 in wastewater have developed a visual map showing trends in each area. The map, which implements a colour code, provides information such as the date of the last validated analysis, the viral presence indicator and a comparative value of the latest data with respect to the previous data at the same point.

This map will be updated weekly and will be accompanied by a summarised report on general trends of the presence of the virus in the municipalities of the Community of Madrid, the city of Madrid and the variation at the 289 sampling points. Updated data will be made available every Tuesday at www.canaldeisabelsegunda.es   

Martín underlined the importance of the VIGIA system in the management of the pandemic in the region. “It has become a very valuable tool for decision-making by the health authorities and has facilitated forecasting of the last two COVID waves in the Autonomous Community”, she said.

The publication of this information is a further step in the consolidation of the VIGIA system, which will become a permanent monitoring network at the service of public health and which will have a genomics laboratory where other types of viruses in wastewater can be analysed, if necessary.

The VIGIA system is the largest COVID-19 early monitoring system based on wastewater analysis developed in Spain. The initiative surpasses other similar projects developed in the country to date, both in terms of the number of sampling points and the population served. The system covers 179 municipalities throughout the entire region, with a total population of 6.8 million.

GENOMICS LABORATORY

The VIGÍA project’s permanent COVID-19 wastewater alert network is managed through Canal de Isabel II’s genomics laboratory, where all types of viruses can be analysed.

Canal de Isabel II has allocated nearly four million euro to the VIGÍA system and will allocate a further 900,000 euro to the genomics laboratory. The lab will have five centrifuges, two PCR booths, a biological safety booth, three thermocyclers, two robotic systems for PCR purification, sample cooling equipment, a centrifuge tube and a dual UV lamp, among other devices. It will also be equipped with consumables, reagents and sample analysis kits. A team of 20 people with scientific and technical profiles has been set up for the planning and development of these studies dedicated to public health.

From March, when it will be fully operational, the genomics laboratory will increase its weekly analysis capacity from 40 to 100, a figure that would meet the needs of virus surveillance in a normal situation. Now, as a result of the pandemic, this work will be complemented by other external analyses in order to respond to the demand for information and provide as much data as possible for health management. To date, more than 9,000 analyses have been carried out on samples taken at the 289 points established in the region.

  In recent weeks, samples are being taken to try to detect the different COVID-19 mutations, i.e., the British, South African and Brazilian strains. Canal de Isabel II technicians are currently working with laboratories and experts in order to find methodologies to overcome existing barriers to the detection and quantification of these variants in wastewater.

Related article: Don’t miss the article on VIGÍA published in FuturENVIRO!