Covid-Web Detects Traces of Omicron Variant in Wastewater Sites across California

Featured Faculty: Kara L. Nelson


Covid-WEB, an arm of Professor Kara Nelson's research lab, has been helping to track the spread of the COVID-19 disease in waste facilities across California, including sites in the Bay Area. Covid-WEB monitors wastewater for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can indicate the presence of the COVID-19 disease in a community. This early detection can help communities respond to the virus or new variants before an outbreak. 

As reported by ABC 7 News, Covid-Web, along with other groups across California, has detected low levels of the Omicron variant in several wastewater sites. These detections in the Bay Area and Southern California suggest that wastewater detection could be more effective than clinical testing. The labs can also look for mutations and variants that have yet to be identified in tests.

Featured in ABC 7 News's coverage are Covid-WEB Lab Manager Joaquin Bradley Silva (2020, B.S. in EES), and lab technicians Christina Lang (CEE junior) and Grace Armstrong (EES sophomore). Since Covid-WEB's launch in fall 2020, over 20 undergraduate students have contributed to measuring SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater at over 35 sites in the Bay Area, on campus, and now across California.