COVID-19: Coronaviruses in water environments

COVID-19: Corona viruses in water environments. Jefferson T, Heneghan C.

Published on June 30, 2020

reference La Rosa G., Bonadonna L., Lucentini L., Kenmoe S., Suffredini E. Coronavirus in water environments: occurrence, persistence and concentration methods A scoping check. Water res. 2020; 179: 115899. 2020
country Global
frame water
Financing details Not reported
Transfer mode Orofecal, Waterborne
Exposures Water environments

Bottom line

Coroviridae have been isolated in different types of liquids from waste to surface water, but in general they appear to be unstable. Chlorination and higher temperatures lead to their inactivation.

Evidence summary

The persistence and survival of CoV in water environments have been investigated in four studies that looked at wastewater and sludge, hospital wastewater, tap water, pasteurized and unpasteurized water, and urine.

SARS-CoV was detected in wastewater, domestic wastewater and tap water for 2 days at 20 ° C and up to 14 days at 4 ° C

Due to its lytic effect on the shell, chlorine is far more effective against CoV than other microorganisms

The occurrence and pathogenicity or potential pathogenicity of CoV for people in water environments was assessed in five studies. Remarkably, none of the samples for SARS-CoV 1 were viable, but the presence of Coronaviridae is widespread.

There was no evidence that human CoV is present in surface or ground water or that it is transmitted through contaminated drinking water.

The paper cites an update when it was released with reports on SARS-CoV-2 in municipal wastewater in the Netherlands, Massachusetts, Australia (link to Ahmed et al., 2020), France and Italy.

What have you done?

The study is a systematic review of what is known from the 12 articles contained about the existence and survival of Coronaviridae in various waters. Coronaviridae are enveloped viruses and probably survive in the water differently than enteroviruses.

Study reliability

The small number of studies and the search date limit the possible applicability of the results to SARS-CoV-2. The review shows how little we know about these emerging Viridae.

The authors note the poor evidence base for enveloped viruses. The concentration and collection methods for these Viridae may not be suitable.

Clearly defined setting Demographic characteristics described The follow-up length was sufficient Transmission results evaluated Major distortions are taken into account
Yes No No No No

What else should I consider?

This is an early review with a lean evidence base and no SARS-CoV-2 relevant data.

Included studies

The occurrence of coronavirus of interest to human health in water environments.

Persistence and survival of the coronavirus in water environments.

About the authors

Carl Heneghan

Carl Heneghan

Carl is a professor of EBM and director of CEBM at Oxford University. He is also a GP and tweets @carlheneghan. He has an active interest in discovering the truth behind the results of health research

Tom Jefferson

Tom Jefferson

Tom Jefferson is a Senior Associate Tutor and Honorary Research Fellow at the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford.