Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test


Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 is being used around the world as an important epidemiological tool during the COVID-19 pandemic.1,2

The Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is a reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) test that detects and quantifies RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in untreated wastewater. Supported by extensive validation data and used by laboratories around the world, this kit can help public health departments, researchers and universities protect their communities.3

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  • Validated protocol by manufacturer of market-leading wastewater tests, including the Colilert/Quanti-Tray method
  • Built-in protocol flexibility for a highly dynamic matrix
  • Validation on common RT-qPCR instruments3
  • Validated with the quality controls recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS)
  • Validation data from several geographically diverse wastewater treatment facilities


  • Demonstrated consistency and limited method variation to support confidence in trend data
  • Independently tested by multiple interlaboratory studies, including by the Water Research Foundation (WRF)


  • Used around the world by public health and private laboratories
  • A history of an excellent supply chain: IDEXX Water has greater than 99.9% availability for key products3 (superscript)
  • Technical support staff with experience implementing wastewater surveillance

How to use




RNA Extraction


Real-time PCR

Step 1. Pasteurise the sample at 60°C for 1.5 hours. This step is optional.

Step 2. Concentrate the sample using PEG precipitation or equivalent.

Step 3. Extract the RNA using the Water DNA/RNA Magnetic Bead Kit.

Step 4. Amplify the purified nucleic acids using the Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test.

Product inserts and supporting documents

Learn more about the Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test

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Frequently asked questions

Raw waste water that has not been chemically treated.

The Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is a reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) test that detects and quantifies the viral RNA in an appropriately prepared wastewater sample.

When used with the 105 ml concentration protocol, the lowest concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater that can be detected by the Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is approximately 1 gene copy/1 ml.

When used with the end-to-end IDEXX procedure, the IDEXX test has been validated to provide highly consistent recovery of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.

The IDEXX-validated protocol concentrates the SARS-CoV-2 virus from 105 ml of waste water. Laboratory staff may analyse larger or smaller water volumes by performing the basic procedure scaled for different input volumes with appropriate centrifugation equipment.

The Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test analyses 5 µl of extracted RNA prepared from a waste water concentrate sample, although we recommend having additional volume on hand to account for pipetting loss and duplicate samples.

IDEXX provides an example concentration protocol based on centrifugation and polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation that has been validated to provide consistent results. This protocol can be modified to meet your specific laboratory needs. Other concentration methods may also be used, such as ultrafiltration, manifold filtration and others, and customers have successfully used these concentration methods with IDEXX reagents. These should be validated to verify performance.

Maintaining a cold sample temperature helps to prevent sample degradation and ensure efficient precipitation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that a biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) laboratory with additional precautions can be used for environmental sample testing, including handling and processing waste water samples associated with SARS-CoV-2. Specific guidance is available from the US CDC: Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).4

Consult your local health authority for specific recommendations.

Follow local health authorities’ recommended procedures for handling and processing of waste water samples associated with SARS-CoV-2. One source of information is published by the US CDC: Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).4

Follow all local regulatory and safety guidelines. 

An optional heat treatment process may be used to inactivate samples through pasteurisation, if desired. See the product insert for an example. 

A pasteurisation step may reduce SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection. Please contact an IDEXX account representative for additional information.

Dispose of all samples and materials in accordance with local regulatory guidelines.

The Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is not US EPA approved for testing for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. The US EPA does not currently regulate SARS-CoV-2 wastewater testing or approve testing methods for this purpose. Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater may or may not be regulated by your local and/or municipal authorities. Please check for regulations that may apply in your area.

Yes, the Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is compatible with, or includes, all of the controls and processes recommended by the CDC for submission of data to the NWSS. Please refer to the IDEXX Materials and Procedures Validated for Quantification of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater report for a full description of the end-to-end procedure, which includes all of the recommended and required controls.

Learn more about the Water SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test

Water Customer Support

IDEXX Laboratories Canada Corp.
1345 Denison Street
Markham, Ontario
L3R 5V2


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  1. Wurtzer S, Marechal V, Mouchel J-M, et al. Evaluation of lockdown impact on SARS-CoV-2 dynamics through viral genome quantification in Paris wastewaters [preprint posted May 6, 2020]. medRxiv. doi:10.1101/2020.04.12.20062679
  2. Medema G, Heijnen L, Elsinga G, Italiaander R, Brouwer A. Presence of SARS-Coronavirus-2 in sewage [preprint posted March 30, 2020]. medRxiv. doi:10.1101/2020.03.29.20045880
  3. Data on file at IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. Westbrook, Maine USA.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim laboratory biosafety guidelines for handling and processing specimens associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Revised June 3, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2020.