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What can be accounted for by the detection of trace amounts of virus in wastewater samples in Spain in March 2019?

COVID-19 in Europe

Regarding the traceability of COVID-19 in Europe, wastewater studies are one of the topics that must be talked about if studying Spain.

Back on June 26, 2020, the University of Barcelona, Spain, issued a communiqué stating that wastewater samples from January 2018 to December 2019 were on detection of SARS-Cov-2 in sewage and it was found that there were positive samples in March 2019, despite very low levels of the virus.

Is it possible that the virus could have been present in Barcelona before March 2019 could be proven? In this regard, Gloria Sanchez of the Spanish National Research Council believes that it is not enough to try to infer evidence of the traceability of COVID-19 in Europe based on this alone, because there are not enough samples to disprove it.

Gloria Sanchez
Gloria Sanchez

However, Gloria points out that it is now certain that the spread of the virus in Spain occurred much earlier than we know, except that because of the limited time available to those involved in the study of COVID-19, there is not enough data to determine when the virus actually began to spread.

Cut to the point in time, March 2019, when Barcelona was hosting the Mobile World Congress when thousands of people flocked to this tourist city, all of whom could have caused the virus to spread, but the fact that precise tracking was not possible.

Intriguingly, precisely because the knowledge of the COVID-19 is still the tip of the iceberg, there is inevitably an endless discussion about whether it is of human-made or natural origin. Gloria said that, at least in academic circles, it is believed that the virus most likely came from the bodies of bats and that currently, unidentified intermediate animals existed in the process of transmission to humans.

For Gloria’s team, one of the first to detect SARS-Cov-2 from sewage in Spain, the team began collecting samples and developing a procedure to detect SARS-Cov-2 in sewage in February 2020. Because at that time, PCR testing was not yet widespread, the method to detect sewage excretion from asymptomatic people and to exclude and extract the virus before patients went to the hospital to test positive was of great research value.