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NORMAN – SCORE “SARS-CoV-2 in sewage” joint initiative

Since the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, wastewater research groups around the world have been rushing to collect influent wastewater samples to analyse for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. In the absence of standard protocols for sampling or analysis, one approach to reducing uncertainty in developing national and international data sets is to develop a common protocol for sample collection, storage, extraction, analysis and data sharing which research groups can opt to use as – or alongside – their own protocols.

Hence in April 2020 NORMAN - in full collaboration with the SCORE network - launched this new voluntary initiative, in line with its mission to support the exchange of information and harmonisation of protocols in the field of contaminants of emerging concern. The initiative provides an opportunity for researchers to contribute to international efforts to tackle the Covid19 pandemic, is open to all and self-funded (i.e. at laboratories own cost).

With different countries at differing stages of tackling the Covid19 pandemic and in varying states of lock-down, the overall initial aim of this co-ordinating action was to support the development of an international comparable data set through the following key actions:

  • Development of a common protocol (lead: KWR)
  • Dissemination of the common protocol (lead: NORMAN)
  • Data reporting format (lead: UCY)
  • Data analysis (UCY/TU-Wien/LTU)


Since its launch in April 2020, the NORMAN SCORE collaboration has gone from strength to strength, directly supporting researchers from a breadth of disciplines to contribute to international activities to translate the promise of wastewater monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 into a practical tool for public health authorities. From the sharing of a common protocol for sample collection, analysis and data reporting to the development of an online open-access database for the rapid sharing of SARS-CoV-2 wastewater and clinical data, this collaboration has borne many fruits! These include:

  • Launch of the NORMAN SCORE SARS-CoV-2 in sewage database – currently contains data on wastewater characteristics, SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and clinical case numbers for almost 300 samples from nine countries
  • Development of a buddy system to enable research groups to develop a complete ‘sample to sequence’ pipeline e.g. see Kolarevic et al., 2021 as an example
  • Publication of a multi-authored Water Research ‘Making Waves’ article describing the collaboration’s activities and how the database - through offering direct access to underpinning metadata sets - is a resource for the development of recommendations on minimum data requirements for wastewater pathogen surveillance.

The NORMAN SCORE collaboration (currently 39 research groups from 20 different counties) remains open to new contributors and data submissions. Stand by for next steps!

How to join the NORMAN “SARS-CoV-2 in sewage” initiative 

For further information, please contact Lian Lundy

How to join the NORMAN network 

For further information about the NORMAN network and if you wish to become an active member of the NORMAN network, please go to