First increase in five COVID-19 wastewater reports for Prince Albert

Graphic courtesy HFCM Communicatie, via Wikimedia This is a representation of what the Covid-19 virus would look like under a powerful microscope.

The USask Global Institute for Water Security wastewater survey for Prince Albert shows that the COVID-19 viral RNA load in Prince Albert’s wastewater has increased by 86.0 per cent in this reporting period compared to the weekly average of the previous week

The number is based on averages of three individual daily measurements in this reporting period up to Oct. 10 which are then compared to the weekly average of the previous week.

This week’s viral load of approximately 104,000 gene copies / 100 mL is an increase compared to last week value and it indicates an increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections in Prince Albert.

The viral load is the first increase after five consecutive declines, indicating that SARS-CoV-2 infection in Prince Albert is not over and should be watched.

This concentration of viral particles is considered “medium” because it is lesser than a 10-week average of ∼226000 gene copies / 100 mL in Prince Albert. The concentration is the 17th highest value observed during the pandemic in Prince Albert.

Proportion of SARS-CoV-2 RNA load in Prince Albert’s wastewater earlier classified as other BA.2 were found to be BA.5 subvariants and BA.4 through whole genome sequencing.

They noted that convergent evolution of mutation may affect the classification proportion of BA.2 subvariants, hence they have not provided the subvariant proportions in this week’s data.

All data has been shared with Saskatchewan health authorities.

The research team is also screening for the top three variants of concern: Alpha (B.1.1.7), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617). Additional variants will be added to the panel as the situation evolves.

USask and Global Water Futures researchers are using wastewater-based epidemiology to monitor for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and North Battleford wastewater, providing early warning of infection outbreaks. This work is being done in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Public Health Agency of Canada, City of Saskatoon, City of Prince Albert and City of North Battleford.

This variant tracking data should be seen merely as an indicator of trends which need to be verified using sequencing technology through the Public Health Agency of Canada. Because individuals are at varying stages of infection when shedding the virus, the variant levels detected in sewage are not necessarily directly comparable to the proportion of variant cases found in individual swab samples confirmed through provincial genetic sequencing efforts.