Thursday. 28.09.2023

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has begun collecting samples to map the presence of coronavirus in Finnish wastewater

The collection of samples is carried out in co-operation with the University of Tampere and samples are taken from various wastewater treatment plants either monthly or weekly.

THL says a the press release that it has already approached the wastewater treatment plants invited for the study to begin collecting new samples.

According to THL, several studies carried out in the Netherlands, the United States and Australia have shown that the coronavirus genetic heritage can be measured in untreated wastewater. Thus, the research complements the understanding of the incidence of the virus from antibody testing and actual Covid-19 testing and provides opportunities to assess population-level changes.

THL's specialist researcher Tarja Pitkänen explained that, “A standard coronavirus test tells whether an individual has a coronavirus infection, but the wastewater survey reflects how much virus is present at the population level in different locations.”

THL aims to make real-time wastewater monitoring from the beginning of June. The presence of poliovirus and other enteroviruses is also monitored in real-time from wastewater.

A similar method is also used to study drug use.

Teemu Gunnar, head of THL's forensic toxicology unit said, “When research is done regularly, changes in the prevalence of viruses can be detected very accurately. The same approach has been used in the past to study drug trends.”

Coronavirus is not a threat to drinking water safety, according to THL.

THL collecting samples from wastewater for Covid-19 mapping