SUEZ enhances COVID-19 wastewater monitoring system to include detection of new British variant

SUEZ in Spain has optimised detection and quantification of the new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2, known as the UK strain, through the application of PCR techniques in wastewater. The application of this new innovative analysis provides rapid information on the incidence of this viral mutation in large sections of the population.

A new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 was identified in the UK in mid-December. According to recent reports, it has greater infectivity and between 40% and 70% higher transmissibility. Hence, the great importance of knowing the incidence of this strain within a population.   

The SUEZ laboratory network, a pioneer in the identification and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, along with the group’s Operations Division, has developed a rapid (results in less than 24h) PCR-based method for the identification of this variant in wastewater. In tandem with existing epidemiological control networks, this method has become an effective tool to monitor the evolution of the pandemic.   


Within this context, LABAQUA, which belongs to the SUEZ network of laboratories, is collaborating with the Empresa Municipal de Abastecimiento y Saneamiento de Granada (Granada Municipal Water Supply and Sanitation company – EMASAGRA) and the Hospital Universitario Clínico San Cecilio de Granada to study the presence of this new strain in wastewater.  

The SUEZ group has incorporated this new functionality into its COVID-19 CITY SENTINEL epidemiological control solution, which has been implemented in over 100 municipalities to monitor a total population of over 13 million, thereby augmenting existing monitoring and forecasting tools. This solution complements the SUEZ group’s global bio-safety activities and will gradually be rolled out to other locations in which the group operates, such as the United Kingdom, France, the United States and Latin America.

COVID-19 CITY SENTINEL is the result of a SUEZ research strategy in Spain to develop innovative solutions to combat the pandemic in record time. SUEZ is placing its expertise and know-how in the field of sewage networks at the disposal of public authorities to help them adopt effective measures to tackle new outbreaks of the virus.   

The COVID-19 CITY SENTINEL solution has been selected by the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (which is responsible for managing the state VATar COVID-19 microbiological surveillance project) as the digital platform for the submission of results and monitoring of the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater.  

For over 20 years, SUEZ has been collaborating actively in partnership with public authorities, universities and research centres in epidemiological surveillance and virus detection in wastewater.