Encouraging Omicron Sewage News

Robin Schoenthaler, MD
2 min readJan 13, 2022

Massachusetts “Poop-ometer” Gives Us Some Hope

Massachusetts Wastewater Covid Testing (link here)

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.

You can read my views on what we know/knew about Omicron here — or about kids and Omicron here — or you can read about vaccines/anti-vaxxers throughout history here

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.

So still stay safe! But this is definitely data-based evidence for hope we may be starting to round the Omicron corner in Massachusetts.

Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom. www.DrRobin.org, @robinshome, robinshome2@gmail.com