An intelligent dashboard that digitises and automatically syncronises data on SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater to provides a single view of trends and changes how the disease can be tracked and treated, says Jonas Bogoshi, CEO at BCX.

Covid -19 infections are continuing to climb around the country as medical experts try to manage the fifth wave of infection. Early detection of increased infection can be the key to managing the spread of the virus. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in collaboration with BCX has developed an automated platform that digitises the data from wastewater testing for early detection.

This innovation is based on global experience that suggest the levels of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater mirrors the levels of infection in the immediate community. Wastewater is considered a reliable metric for measuring Covid-19 infections because people shed the virus in their waste, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. The tracking of wastewater trends is an essential part in pin-pointing areas in the country that are seeing an upsurge in infections.

“By providing health decision-makers with up-to-date scientific insights, they are now empowered to make smart and prompt decisions, aimed at protecting the public. BCX’s intelligent, publicly accessible dashboard centralises the data that can effectively tracks SARS-CoV-2 wastewater levels nationally,” says Bogoshi.

The NICD has started a process of testing wastewater that has recently detected the new Omicron sub-variant BA.4 in wastewater in south-western Johannesburg. Additionally, sustained, and new increases in the levels of SARS-CoV-2 had been seen in wastewater treatment plants in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Western Cape, Northern Cape, and North-West provinces.

“BCX is proud to partner with the NICD on tracking and monitoring the spread of the Covid-19 virus across the nation and to identify new variants. The smart insights dashboard pulls essential health and virus data streams together into a cohesive platform to deliver insights that are relevant and essential in managing infections.

The platform is also designed to be public-facing and accessible. It is easy to navigate and automates the process creating a visual of the viral load for each community. It not only allows for members of the public to immediately assess the risk factors in their region, but for policy and healthcare decision makers to develop informed strategies to combat, or prepare for, potential outbreaks in specific areas. Using digital skills from BCX EXA, the platform is web-based and granular enough that anyone can easily understand the extent of infection in their suburb or district.

“The use of intuitive technology in this unique way is a compelling glimpse of what’s possible when we apply innovation, science and human ingenuity to a very real problem that affects all South Africans,” Bogoshi adds.