COVID-19: Inactivation of human coronaviruses in aqueous solutions using UV-C
There is significant potential that the novel coronavirus SARS CoV-2 (herein referred to simply as CoV-2) may be spread through inadequately treated water. The novel coronavirus has been detected by rtPCR in fecal samples and in municipal wastewater. Perhaps more concerning, in the 2003 outbreak of the closely related SARS coronavirus, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. These observations raise critical questions about the adequacy of treatment for drinking water and wastewater in Canada. Since treated wastewater is discharged into recreational waters including Lake Ontario, these questions must be addressed in order to protect public health. Ultraviolet (UV) is one of the primary disinfection techniques used for drinking water and wastewater in North America, but its efficacy against CoV-2 is unknown.
In this work we are proposing to evaluate the susceptibility of coronaviruses. The work is split up into a surrogate stage and a pathogen stage. The surrogate stage will bookend the pathogen stage, with the first part of the surrogate stage preparing to enter the pathogen stage, and the latter part continuing the investigation on a broader panel of coronaviruses. In the first part, solutions containing human coronavirus 229E will be inactivated with different UV doses to obtain dose response curves in the Aucoin Lab at the University of Waterloo. The information on this virus is needed and will not only be used by Trojan but will also be communicated to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Once all protocols are established, testing will be moved to McMaster University, in collaboration with the Miller lab, to evaluate the susceptibility of CoV-2 (pathogen stage). Again this will directly inform the operation of UV reactors that operate across Canada for the treatment of water. In the last part of this project, the susceptibility of other coronaviruses, including OC-43, in different aqueous solutions and in the presence of different soiling agents will be evaluated.