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BPHC Launches Boston COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Program

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced the launch of its COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program that will utilize samples from 11 manholes across the city for more localized estimates of circulating COVID-19 virus and its variants in Boston.

The 11 testing sites are in Brighton, Back Bay, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and South Boston.  

BPHC chose these locations because they provide broad coverage of Boston’s communities and optimize ease of access to the manholes with high population densities, allowing for a detailed understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting different neighborhoods. This data will enable BPHC to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with more precise interventions for communities with high or rising levels of virus. Prior to this program, BPHC relied solely on wastewater data generated by MWRA and Biobot that measured the concentration of COVID-19 virus particles for the Greater Boston area. The new Boston-specific testing sites will provide a more detailed local view of COVID-19 in Boston neighborhoods.  

“This exciting new wastewater surveillance program will enhance our ability to respond to the many ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “We recognize that COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionate impact within communities throughout Boston. Our goal is to use these data to inform our strategies and ensure equity in our responses.” 

The new testing program is a partnership between BPHC, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC), and Cambridge-based Biobot Analytics, a world leader in wastewater epidemiological services. This partnership began in October 2022, with the three organizations working closely to identify the most optimal test sites and pilot the data collection and analysis methods.  

“We are thrilled to partner with the Boston Public Health Commission on its COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program,” said Mariana Matus, CEO & Cofounder of Biobot Analytics. “Boston is a true trailblazer for investing today into the public health infrastructure of tomorrow. The launch of these new wastewater testing sites will create granular data that is more actionable for local officials and will help with the planning of resource allocation and interventions and increase public awareness.” 

“BWSC is pleased to collaborate as a resource and partner with the BPHC and Biobot Analytics to identify sites for COVID-19 surveillance in effort to protect all who live, work, and visit the City of Boston,” said Henry F. Vitale, Executive Director of Boston Water and Sewer Commission

Wastewater sample gathering will take place twice a week and the publicly available online data will be updated accordingly to help keep the public informed about the COVID-19 risk levels in their communities. These data can be accessed by visiting our COVID-19 website.

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