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COVID-19 in wastewater: $1 million in research funding

The Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) are pleased to announce an investment of $1 million in the CentrEau-COVID: Dépistage de la COVID-19 dans les eaux usées comme outil de vigie et de gestion project to screen for COVID-19 in wastewater led by researchers Peter Vanrolleghem at Université Laval and Dominic Frigon at McGill University. The other partners in the $1.7M project are the Trottier Family Foundation, Molson Foundation and National Centre in Environmental Technology and Electrochemistry (CNETE).

The six-month research initiative chiefly aims to test wastewater in major urban centres and smaller municipalities across Québec to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for COVID-19. Making wastewater monitoring part of the crisis management approach enables early geolocation-based virus detection to help break the virus transmission chain and avoid outbreaks. The study areas are Montréal, Québec and Laval, as well as Bas-Saint-Laurent and Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec.

The analyses conducted on wastewater samples will serve as the basis of the predictive model that researchers aim to develop to provide quick and reliable notices to government authorities fighting the crisis. Strategies to implement wastewater monitoring initiatives covering the entire province are also proposed. In addition, the monitoring tool could be dedicated to other concerns, including influenza surveillance, resistance to antibiotics and farm-level zoonoses.

The CentrEau research centre with which Profs. Vanrolleghem and Frigon are affiliated is among the 35 strategic clusters funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies.


"Since the start of the pandemic, the response of the scientific communities in Québec and around the world has been very, very impressive. This creative avenue to seek out our common enemy in the sewers demonstrates, once again, that our scientists will find the keys to the pandemic. In this precipitating context, the FRQ's support provides them with the means to implement their solutions."
-- Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Québec

"The strength and complementarity of the research expertise within our strategic groups are major assets to foster the emergence of concrete and innovative responses to the challenges we face, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, to name but a few. I have no doubt that this project led by such determined researchers will be a resounding success."
-- Janice Bailey, Scientific Director, FRQNT


Director, Communications and Knowledge Mobilization
Fonds de recherche du Québec
Telephone: 514 873-2114, ext. 4231