Governance Organization

CHA – Children’s Hospital Academic Medical Organization

Project Title

CHA-20-012 – Measurement of SARS-CoV-2 Protein and RNA in Wastewater; Real-Time Measurement of Community Viral Load

Project Highlights

The funds were truly the enabling catalyst for a multidisciplinary SARS CoV2 wastewater surveillance program, one of the first in North America and the first to report daily levels on a publicly accessible website. The information therefrom has been cited by local health authorities and even the premier in justifying various public health measures over the past 18 months. The Ottawa initiative helped in the formulation of a $12 million province-wide Wastewater Surveillance Initiative in Fall 2020 led by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. As of August 2021, all 34 public health units had joined the initiative with approximately 160 sampling locations covering over 80% of Ontarians. In addition, it has allowed the monitoring individual facilities such as penitentiaries and long-term care facilities. Our team helped lead the country in developing variant specific PCR assays. Efforts are underway to apply this approach to RSV, influenza and other pathogens. In addition we are continuing to develop a means of measuring viral protein in the wastewater, far more sensitive than RNA. There have been 7 publications arsing from the initiative to date as well as an Ontario Science Table Brief. The work has been widely reported, e.g. BBC, Washington Post and we have authored a Globe and Mail op-ed. Robert Delatolla presented the Ottawa experience to the European Union last month. While clearly other funds have been involved in the broader initiative, our access to a substantial revenue steam early on were absolutely mission critical to the success of the project. The return on investment has been the greater I have seen in over three decades of research.


Public Health Measures and Society

Primary Project Lead for Contact

Alex Mackenzie


Secondary Project Lead for Contact

Robert Delatolla, Tyson Graber


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