You must have been tested for COVID-19 at some point during the last two years because of the fact that everywhere you go such as airports or somewhere else, you needed a negative certificate which meant that lateral flow tests were almost mandatory. Would you believe that it is possible to detect the viruses such as COVID-19 without lateral flow tests and not even getting tested because you can just test your wastewater to detect if viruses are present in them. That is what Untap Health wants to do for offices and care homes to prevent an outbreak of viruses or flu.

Untap Health’s Dr. Claire Trant says, “the realization there was a problem to be solved in sewage surveillance came to her during the pandemic when she saw up close how much of a “logistical nightmare” the government was struggling with, shipping manually collected sewage samples from all over the country to a single lab for testing as everyone screamed for more data”.

She adds, “They were looking at technologies coming out of universities and organisations that could be used to make this operational nightmare bit easier”. “Essentially, what the government was doing, and what most service vendors’ techniques are doing, is manual collection of sewage. You then courier it to a lab, and then you analyze the data and send it back. That takes around a week so it was only really used on a city scale — just because it’s too slow to use any more granularly than that. So the government was looking to step it up. And there was no obvious solution for that on the market. And that’s why I really came to it.”

“We saw the original market and then realized the potential and much, much bigger market that was there,” she recalls. “That’s why we’re building this multi-pathogen [detection capability]. So we’re looking to develop a technology for up to 12 pathogens for our first product. Which means that we can do COVID-19, flu, Norovirus, RSV — and whatever else, unfortunately, may come at us.” The report adds that “The next pathogens on its detection expansion list are: E. coli, Campylobacter, Rotavirus and Enterovirus. While initial target customers are care homes and offices — where Trant says they’ve seen some early interest in their proposition”.