Could wastewater surveillance unlock early warning systems for future pandemics? In India, where one-third of wastewater flows openly, this age-old technique is being resurrected with promising results.
Varsha Shridhar and Dr. Angela Chaudhuri, with backing from the Skoll Foundation, are testing sewage for pathogens, tracking illnesses in real-time before symptoms emerge. This robust detection mechanism has potential not only for diseases like COVID-19, but also for antimicrobial resistance and tuberculosis.
Despite the initial skepticism, their pioneering work in Bangalore is expanding to other cities in India and even to countries like Cambodia and the Philippines, making the invisible visible and potentially saving countless lives.