Shimadzu Techno Research has started a contract service for the detection of SARS-Covid19 in sewage. Detection is based on RT-PCR using Shimadzu’s New Coronavirus Detection Reagent Kit, after the virus is concentrated from sewage samples by polyethylene glycol precipitation and RNA extraction. Detection limit is around 103 copies/L. Based on this figure, detection is possible if 10 out of 100,000 people, or 1 out of 10,000 people, shed the virus in their feces. Mutant strains can also be detected using appropriate primers. The procedure follows the “Manual for the Detection of Novel Coronavirus Genes in Sewage (Provisional Version)” published in December 2020 by the COVID-19 Task Force of the Japan Society on Water Environment. 

A team from Shionogi Co., a pharmaceutical company, has also entered on a similar program. Their incentive comes from the fact that sewage data do not fall in the category of personal information and thus can be used for secondary purposes without identifying individuals. They will start a contract service for municipalities in 2021 to detect and measure SARS-CoV-2 in sewage using a Mahoro, a LabDroid for dangerous work developed by the Robotic Biology Institute, an assay from Hokkaido University and iLAC, a Tsukuba startup, for automation. In future, they plan to expand this service to include pathogens other than SARS-CoV-2

Nikkei Biotech news release, March 30 and 31, 2021