Applications of Digital PCR: Precision detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater for community surveillance of COVID-19

Screening for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in wastewater enables widespread and rapid surveillance of COVID-19 outbreak risks – even in areas that have limited access to healthcare or testing facilities. While quantitative PCR (qPCR) is the current standard for COVID-19 clinical testing, it has poor sensitivity of detection for very rare targets, thus resulting in highly variable data. Digital PCR is better suited for detecting SARS-CoV-2 targets from wastewater samples because it overcomes the problem of variability, reduces the impact of many PCR inhibitors, and eliminates the need for standard curves.

Dr. Walter Betancourt of the University of Arizona highlights the technological advantages of using digital PCR over qPCR for effective early detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater from on-campus student housing.

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