LuminUltra Technologies Inc. is partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) to collect and test wastewater for the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as genetic mutations associated with the Omicron and Delta variants.
LuminUltra will provide SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance data at 500 sites across the U.S., from mid-December 2021 to March 2022 as part of the next phase in the CDC's National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS).
"We prepared a comprehensive plan to assist the CDC with their important work of building the National Wastewater Surveillance System," said Mark McIntosh, vice president, Applied Services, at LuminUltra.
"We were one of the first labs in the country to offer SARS-CoV-2 wastewater testing and variant sequencing. With LuminUltra's technical expertise, including the ability to detect the Omicron and Delta variants in wastewater, and our commercial capabilities, including a fleet of mobile testing laboratories, we are in an ideal position to meet the CDC's needs for this project."
Detection of Omicron & Delta Variants
The Omicron variant emerged suddenly in November, and the CDC will be relying on LuminUltra's wastewater testing solution to detect the genetic mutations associated with both the Omicron and Delta variants, making data available to state, territorial and Native American governments. Participating utilities and the public will also be able to access data from this project through the CDC's COVID Data Tracker website.
LuminUltra has been at the forefront of wastewater testing for over 26 years, from developing 2nd Generation ATP technology for wastewater applications in the mid-1990s, to developing the world's first rapid, on-site COVID-19 wastewater testing solution in 2020.
"This project further solidifies LuminUltra's position as a world leader in wastewater-based epidemiology," said Pat Whalen, CEO of LuminUltra Technologies. "Bidding for this contract was very competitive, but we were selected because we put together the most compelling technical and financial proposal. We look forward to working with the CDC to provide data that will assist in making public health decisions to keep people safe and economies growing."
The CDC began the National Wastewater Surveillance System in September 2020 to provide community-level data on COVID-19 infection trends. Wastewater data collected and analyzed from participating utilities has been used to support response decision-making, including resource allocation, refining health messaging, the location of mobile testing laboratories, and forecasting of cases and hospitalizations.
Participation in the Program
Wastewater utilities interested in participating in this phase of the NWSS project can apply by submitting an online application. LuminUltra will help participating utilities coordinate sample collection and shipment, with the cost of the program covered by CDC.