The current pandemic is due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes a severe respiratory infection known as COVID-19.
Recent reports have noted the presence of viral RNA in stool samples, offering unique measurement challenges and opportunities in three areas:
* Biosurveillance of Wastewater: Local public health labs can monitor sewage treatment facilities to measure the rise and fall of COVID-19 in a community; potentially as a tool to help predict future waves of outbreaks.
* Feces as a New Target for Diagnostic Testing: Currently there are >140 commercially available COVID-19 diagnostic tests. While initially validated using nasal swabs, these same tests can potentially be re-validated in fecal material.
* Fecal Microbiome Transplantation (FMT) Safety: Every year, thousands of patients receive FMTs to treat infections and other health conditions. The FDA has released a safety alert stating donor material must be screened for COVID-19, as feasible.
To address these new challenges and opportunities, we are organizing a virtual workshop that convenes stakeholders in the above areas.
Workshop goals are to:
* Gain insight on measurement challenges associated with detecting SARS-CoV-2 in fecal material.
* Disseminate NIST’s unique expertise in producing standards and reference materials to address urgent measurement challenges.
* Determine how the NIST Human Whole Stool Reference Material (RGM 10162), currently under development, could potentially be modified and deployed to address these emerging needs.
* A workshop report will summarize the discussion and inform planning for ongoing and future NIST efforts.