Here we go.
The United States is considering testing airline poop and toilet waste on international flights to monitor the spread of the virus due to fear that a new pandemic will happen once China opens its gates to the rest of the world.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intends to test wastewater samples from international planes to track the transmission of any new Covid variants, the agency told Reuters.
According to three infectious disease experts quoted by Reuters, tracing the virus by testing wastewater collected from airplanes would be more effective than testing visitors upon arrival.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, a specialist on infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota, said that travel limitations like mandatory testing have failed to reduce the spread of COVID significantly so far. He added it is more “essential from a political standpoint.”
“They seem to be essential from a political standpoint. I think each government feels like they will be accused of not doing enough to protect their citizens if they don’t do these,” he said.
Dr. Eric Topol, a genomics expert and head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, argues that testing wastewater from airlines “would be a very good tactic.”
“A better solution would be testing wastewater from airlines, which would offer a clearer picture of how the virus is mutating, given China’s lack of data transparency,” he said.
A CDC spokeswoman, Kristen Nordlund, wrote in an email that the agency is considering testing airplane wastewater as one of the strategies to reduce the spread of new variants into our country.
“Previous COVID-19 wastewater surveillance has shown to be a valuable tool and airplane wastewater surveillance could potentially be an option,” she wrote.
The CDC has literally gone to shit! https://t.co/3RNdK2Wg56
— PureBlood (@DoUEvenCongress) January 1, 2023
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According to the South China Morning Post, the Malaysian government has announced that they will start screening toilet water on flights from China to track the virus.
They will not, however, be testing travelers upon arrival to Malaysia.
Current evidence suggests that testing wastewater is more effective than COVID-19 tests in revealing infections, with researchers from San Diego finding that wastewater tests showed the presence of the Alpha, Delta, Epsilon, and Omicron variants up to two weeks before people tested positive using nasal swabs.