Wastewater data shows insight into measuring COVID infections

Data from wastewater analysis have been reported to mirror the number of COVID-19 infection rates from the first wave of the pandemic. Yahoo Finance Health Care Reporter Anjalee Khemlani breaks down the patterns seen in the dataset and how it could prove crucial in predicting and tracking future coronavirus cases.

Video transcription


RACHELLE AKUFFO: Well, during the COVID pandemic, wastewater was used as a statistical measure for the levels of the coronavirus in communities around the United States. The high levels of the virus found in sewage reflected the high number of cases and hospitalization rates. And new data appears to show similar overlaps today as they did during the first level of the Omicron virus. Let’s bring in Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani to learn more and why the data should still matter to you. Hi Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Hi Rochelle. It is true. Well, we’re actually seeing an increase in that wastewater data. And that’s why we need to pay attention to it right now. The sampling shows there may be what some are classifying as a late summer wave of COVID right now around the country. And so we’ve seen some pockets of the country, specifically if you look at even New York, the entire state has seen an increase of about 73% in New York City of the places that have been sampled and are showing high levels of COVID.

We also see the CDC reporting hospitalizations at 10% week over week. And it’s also based on what they see in the wastewater numbers. So it started at the beginning of July with a small increase in numbers, and now you’re seeing that translate into admissions. If you remember, that was similar to what we saw with testing, increased number of tests. And then after a few weeks later, we saw these admission numbers go up.

So now, since we don’t have enough testing, the CDC is now relying on the sewage sampling. And what we do know is that there are thousands of locations around the country. It was originally created in 2020. And then we have hundreds of counties reporting. And I know on the site, on the CDC site, that California, New York, and even Nebraska has at least one site with an increase of 80% to 100% of the sample. So that just means we still have COVID circulating in the country as we know.

At the moment, the XBB family of variety is the one in focus. And this, of course, as we come ahead of the autumn booster conversation that we know we will have soon. So just so everyone is paying attention out there, stay tuned. COVID still exists, even if we want to forget it.

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