Wastewater-based Epidemiology Surveillance Service

  • What is wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) surveillance service?

    Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) surveillance service is a service to monitor the spread of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in communities by measuring the concentration of traces of the virus in wastewater through the use of wastewater-based epidemiologic techniques.

    SARS-CoV-2 is shed in feces of infected individuals even before the occurrence of symptoms. Therefore, by measuring the traces of the virus in wastewater, it is possible to assess, in an unbiased manner, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in a community, including asymptomatic individuals who are not tested. SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring data provide a basis for decision-making on infection prevention and control measures.

  • Providing wastewater epidemiological surveillance service by establishment of AdvanSentinel Inc.

    In January 2022, Shionogi established AdvanSentinel Co., a joint venture with Shimadzu Corporation for the purpose of public health risk assessment such as wastewater surveillance. AdvanSentinel aims to build an All-Japan system to detect the next pandemic and other public health risks, not only COVID-19. This will be accomplished by combining the wastewater monitoring networks2 built by each company, and by developing new analytical methods and technologies, leveraging the analytical science strengths of Shionogi and the environmental molecular measurement technology expertise of Shimadzu.

Outline of WBE Surveillance Service

  • Characteristics of WBE surveillance service

    SARS-CoV-2 surveillance through WBE has been performed in various countries in Europe and the United States. In Japan, there have been fewer reported cases of COVID-19 infection compared to those countries. Therefore, with the existing methods it was difficult to detect the virus when the number of infected people was low—in the early phase and convergence phase.

    Our service uses a highly sensitive detection system (patent pending) that we have developed jointly with Hokkaido University. This system is about 100 times more sensitive than existing methods and can detect SARS-CoV-2 even in a low prevalence area.

Comparison with existing clinical testing

Existing clinical testing WBE surveillance

Only symptomatic individuals are tested, in principle.

Infected individuals excrete the virus in their urine and feces; the virus can be detected in asymptomatic as well as symptomatic individuals.

Time and labor are required to know the infection status within a population.

It is possible to grasp the infection status within a population.

Appropriate handling of personal information is required.

Specific individuals cannot be identified.

Informed consent for cooperation in the surveillance is required.

Informed consent is not required.

A cost is incurred for each person receiving a test.

The total cost is lower for mass testing.


Flow of Service

If you have any questions about our WBE surveillance service or requests for more information, please contact us using the following form.

Service contents

① Quantitative analysis by Hokkaido University-Shionogi method

The amount of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater is measured by qPCR using Hokkaido University-Shionogi method which is 100 times more sensitive than the conventional methods.

② Mutation analysis by NGS

The mutation analysis using the NGS can be performed for the samples with a certain level of concentration. The methodology was applicable to detection of Alpha and Delta strains from wastewater samples about a month ahead before the strains were clinically confirmed in the same area.  Omicron strains are also theoretically detectable by the NGS analysis.  Since this survey requires a certain level of SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration, we provide NGS service as an option for quantitative analysis using Hokkaido University-Shionogi method.

Our service for municipalities (NEW)

Wastewater samples are collected regularly from each wastewater treatment plant in a municipality and taken to our laboratory for analysis of SARS-CoV-2. Analysis results will be returned within four to five business days after receipt of samples. The results can be used as epidemiological indicators to identify the prevalence of COVID-19, potential outbreaks and convergence in the catchment area.


We expand the wastewater-based epidemiology service to mutation analysis using the next-generation sequencer (NGS) for identification of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2.  Our NGS based service enable to clarify the spread of mutant strains in the certain region sharing wastewater.  Since a certain amount of RNA concentration is required for the NGS based analysis, the service is provided as an option service together with the quantitative wastewater-based epidemiology service.

business image

Wastewater treatment plant
(Sampling: approx. 100ml)



  • Analysis at the Research Center
  • Data analysis
  • Report creation

4 – 5 business days


· A basis for decision making regarding measures to maintain urban functions, such as infection prevention measures and economic measures 

· A basis for decision making regarding establishment of medical care system and securement of medical resources


Consultation required


・Monitoring the trends of new mutant strains

・Providing information for constructing an early countermeasure system

Service for various types of facilities

It is possible to investigate the occurrence status of COVID-19 positive cases for each facility. By carrying out targeted PCR testing after establishing the presence of SARS-CoV-2 by WBE surveillance, it is possible to early detect infected individuals and the occurrence of a cluster, thereby preventing the spread of infection.


・Elderly care homes

・Group housing facilities such as dormitories


・Event venue

・Concert hall


Note: At present, this service is only available for facilities with septic tanks or raw water tanks.

business flow

Various types of facilities
(Sampling: approx. 100 ml)



  • Analysis at the Research Center
  • Data analysis
  • Report creation

4 – 5 business days

Various types of facilities

・Identification of infected individuals (PCR testing, etc.)

・Identification of close contacts, health monitoring

・Implementation of measures to prevent the spread of infection



About Wastewater-based Epidemiology

  • What is wastewater-based epidemiology?

    Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an epidemiological survey method for detecting the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases by measuring the traces of pathogenic microbes (including viruses) in wastewater. WBE has been used for decades to investigate the outbreak of norovirus, etc. The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a virus that can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome such as pneumonia and multiplies in the intestinal tract. It has been reported that the virus is detected in feces of infected individuals, regardless of the presence of symptoms. Therefore, various countries including the United States and those in Europe have been attempting to estimate the prevalence of infections in communities by detecting SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.

    The presence of infectious SARS-CoV-2 in influent wastewater at wastewater treatment plants has not yet been reported. 

  • Measurement principles

    Wastewater samples are collected from each facility or sewage treatment plant, and viral RNA is extracted from concentrated samples. Then quantitative PCR testing is performed to measure the concentration of virus RNA present in the sample. Since the amount of viral RNA contained in wastewater samples is very low compared to PCR testing using saliva or nasal swab, in this service we use our proprietary technologies that we have developed with Hokkaido University, such as viral RNA concentration method and highly sensitive quantitative PCR.

Our news release relating Wastewater-based Epidemiology Surveillance Service


1.      Press release on March 19, 2021

Establishing an Automated System for the Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater

2.      Press release on April 14, 2021

Wastewater surveillance to monitor COVID-19 starts in Osaka Prefecture

3.      Press release on June 2, 2021

Notice Regarding the Signing of Basic Agreement of Business Partnership between SHIMADZU and SHIONOGI for Wastewater Surveillance for Viruses in the Field of Infectious Diseases, Including Novel Coronavirus

4.      Press release on June 11, 2021

Notice Regarding an Exclusive license Agreement for a Sensitive Virus Detection Method of Viruses and Bacteria, Including Novel Coronavirus, between Hokkaido University and SHIONOGI

5.      Press release on June 14, 2021

SHIONOGI Announces the Start of the Wastewater Epidemiological Surveillance Service for the Novel Coronavirus in Japan

6.      Press release on December 7, 2021

Shionogi Announces Launch of Mutational Analysis Services for Wastewater-based Epidemiological Surveillance of the Novel Coronavirus