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Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 genetic diversity is strongly indicated because diversifying selection may lead to the emergence of novel variants resistant to naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. To date, most data on SARS-CoV-2 genetic diversity has come from the sequencing of clinical samples, but such studies may suffer limitations due to costs and throughput. Wastewater-based epidemiology may provide an alternative and complementary approach for monitoring communities for novel variants. Given that SARS-CoV-2 can infect the cells of the human gut and is found in high concentrations in feces, wastewater may be a valuable source of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, which can be deep sequenced to provide information on the circulating variants in a community. Here we describe a safe, affordable protocol for the sequencing of SARS CoV-2 RNA using high-throughput Illumina sequencing technology. Our targeted sequencing approach revealed the presence of mutations associated with several Variants of Concern at appreciable frequencies. Our work demonstrates that wastewater-based SARS-CoV-2 sequencing can inform surveillance efforts monitoring the community spread of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern and detect the appearance of novel emerging variants more cheaply, safely, and efficiently than the sequencing of individual clinical samples.


This submitted manuscript is also included in medRxiv:

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