Tracking COVID-19 with wastewater to understand asymptomatic transmission

Dhammika Leshan Wannigama, Mohan Amarasiri, Cameron Hurst, Phatthranit Phattharapornjaroen, Shuichi Abe, Parichart Hongsing, S. M.Ali Hosseini Rad, Lachlan Pearson, Thammakorn Saethang, Sirirat Luk-in, Naris Kueakulpattana, Robin James Storer, Puey Ounjai, Alain Jacquet, Asada Leelahavanichkul, Tanittha Chatsuwan

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Introduction: SARS-CoV-2 RNA is excreted in feces of most patients, therefore viral load in wastewater can be used as a surveillance tool to develop an early warning system to help and manage future pandemics. 

Methods: We collected wastewater from 24 random locations at Bangkok city center and 26 nearby suburbs from July to December 2020. SARS-CoV-2 RNA copy numbers were measured using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). 

Results: SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in wastewater from both the city center and suburbs. Except for July, there were no significant differences in copy numbers between the city center and suburbs. Between October and November, a sharp rise in copy number was observed in both places followed by two to three times increase in December, related to SARS-CoV-2 cases reported for same month. Conclusions: Our study provided the first dataset related to SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in the wastewater of Bangkok. Our results suggest that wastewater could be used as a complementary source for detecting viral RNA and predicting upcoming outbreaks and waves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-299
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


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