Aligning Validation of Wastewater Testing for SARS-CoV-2 to Policy Needs
With the COVID-19 pandemic, test kit shortages have created large blind spots with respect to disease transmission. Wastewater testing provides a new way to rapidly measure the viral exposure of thousands of people in a community. But given the novelty of approach, public health and public policy officials need to be confident that the method yields reliable information. Different validation approaches provide different insights into the robustness of wastewater data for policymaking. Further, different pandemic management decisions require different levels of methodologic validation. Accordingly, researchers refining SARS-CoV-2 testing methods must consider how the data will be used. Beyond intra-lab validation (to improve viral detection and quantification), approaches to explore include inter-lab validation (such as split-sample analyses), meta-regression (to identify sample processing features associated with improved detection/quantification), and data triangulation (to contextualize and assess alignment between wastewater data and conventional community data sources).
The NIST report (pp. 12-13) provides a summary of Keshaviah's talk during this workshop.