Supported by the programme EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data, four of the European Union’s Eastern Partner countries successfully developed a COVID-19 monitoring concept and performed pilot analyses in urban wastewater: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.
During September 2022, the SarsCov-2 virus was analysed for the first time ever in wastewater samples from Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi and Chisinau. The now proven concept for sampling, analysis and evaluation has been developed with the support of the European Union. In the framework of the EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data programme, experts from the Environment Agency Austria and Vienna University of Technology provided guidance on the elaboration of the procedures and enabled the first analysis of Covid-19 in wastewater in each of the countries. In order to obtain valid and comparable results, a minimum data set and more inflow (sewer) data for normalization are needed as a next step.
During the next months, the European experts will guide the programme’s partners in the Eastern Partner countries to go from first sampling to continuous practice and train them on evaluation and interpretation of data. In parallel, the sampling will be extended to increase the coverage of the COVID-19 monitoring. This will improve monitoring the pandemic for overall health protection in each country and even internationally.
Covid-19 surveillance in Europe
Since 2021 EU Member States are strongly encouraged to put in place a national wastewater surveillance system targeted at data collection of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in wastewaters. This system serves as a rather simple, low-cost instrument on top of the more complex public testing. Austria was one of the pioneers in the implementation of such a system, kicked off with the Coron-A project in spring 2020. Monitoring still persists and delivers timely information about the pandemic situation.
About EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data
The programme aims at supporting a more sustainable use of water resources and improving the use of sound environmental data and their availability for policy-makers and citizens. The programme is implemented by Environment Agency Austria, Austrian Development Agency, the International Office for Water, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The action is funded by the European Union and co-funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation and the French Artois-Picardie Water Agency. The implementation period is 2021-2024.
The Environment Agency Austria in a nutshell
As Austria´s most important expert organisation for the environment and one of Europe´s leading environmental consultants we are committed to transforming the economy and society in order to ensure sustainable living conditions. Our experts provide the basis for decision making at local, regional and international level. We are committed to transparency and impartiality in our work and we engage in dialogue with politics, administration, business, science and civil society.