Massachusetts “Poop-ometer” Gives Us Some Hope
I’m a Boston-based cancer doctor and I’ve been writing weekly fact-based-no-blame-no-rumors-all-science-all-the-time essays about Covid-19 since March 2020.
Wastewater measurements of Covid have been taking place in Massachusetts and many states. They show the quantity of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles in our sewage water. The presence of viral particles in our poop has turned out to be a very accurate early measurement of what to probably expect: it is usually ahead of measured cases by a week or so and ahead of hospitalizations by a few weeks.
(As a reminder, viral PARTICLES are not contagious. There’s no evidence that one can catch Covid from poop or wastewater.)
Wastewater Covid testing been amazingly accurate at predicting the start ups and ends of surges.
In Massachusetts this week it is very encouraging.
For the last few days viral particles — the bits and pieces of Covid in our sewage — are declining, a lot. This may well be very good news that the surge in Omicron cases will soon start to decline.
Now in the real world we are still weeks away from seeing reductions in the numbers of patients in our ERs, clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals. Our health care system and health care workers are still terribly over-burdened, over-worked, and at their limits and will remain so for some time.
So westill want to hunker down, keep wearing our masks, keep staying as safe as life will allow, keep trying to not catch Covid this month.
But these measurements and this graph could be a sign we have a tide about to be turned.