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NORMAN – SCORE joint initiative to facilitate data comparison between “SARS-CoV-2 in sewage” studies

Since the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, wastewater research groups around the world have been rushing to collect influent wastewater samples. This time-critical activity is particularly challenging as many laboratories are under lock-down and, with no standard sampling protocol or analytical method, samples are currently collected and analysed for viral RNA using a variety of methodologies. 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. This voluntary initiative - developed as 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). Results submitted using the reporting template will be stored within the NORMAN database system (open access). 

With different countries at differing stages of tackling the Covid19 pandemic and in varying states of lock-down, the overall aim of this co-ordinating action is to support the development of an international comparable data set. The following objectives are seen as key steps in implementing this action:
  • 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)


The response to the NORMAN – SCORE joint initiative has been quite extraordinary, with 85 groups from 31 countries (to-date) expressing an interest in implementing a common protocol (either as – or alongside their own – in house method) in this rapidly moving field. The first sampling campaign was undertaken on June 1st 2020 with interest expressed in undertaking a second sampling campaign on June 15th 2020.

The NORMAN initiative was presented at the EU CALL NOTICE ‘SARS-CoV-2 monitoring employing Sewers’ meeting (June 8th 2020; see here for the NORMAN presentation) where much of the discussion focussed on method development and standardisation. Minutes and presentations from the meeting should be available online shortly (a link will be posted here when available).

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