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Anal Bioanal Chem ; 414(5): 1773-1785, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1653430


Nucleic acid tests to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been performed worldwide since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the quality assessment of testing laboratories and the performance evaluation of molecular diagnosis products, reference materials (RMs) are required. In this work, we report the production of a lentiviral SARS-CoV-2 RM containing approximately 12 kilobases of its genome including common diagnostics targets such as RdRp, N, E, and S genes. The RM was measured with multiple assays using two different digital PCR platforms. To measure the homogeneity and stability of the lentiviral SARS-CoV-2 RM, reverse transcription droplet digital PCR (RT-ddPCR) was used with in-house duplex assays. The copy number concentration of each target gene in the extracted RNA solution was then converted to that of the RM solution. Their copy number values are measured to be from 1.5 × 105 to 2.0 × 105 copies/mL. The RM has a between-bottle homogeneity of 4.80-8.23% and is stable at 4 °C for 1 week and at -70 °C for 6 months. The lentiviral SARS-CoV-2 RM closely mimics real samples that undergo identical pre-analytical processes for SARS-CoV-2 molecular testing. By offering accurate reference values for the absolute copy number of viral target genes, the developed RM can be used to improve the reliability of SARS-CoV-2 molecular testing.

COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Genome, Viral , RNA, Viral/genetics , Reagent Kits, Diagnostic/standards , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/standards , Coronavirus Envelope Proteins/genetics , Coronavirus Envelope Proteins/metabolism , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/genetics , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , Gene Dosage , Gene Expression , Humans , Jurkat Cells , Lentivirus/genetics , Lentivirus/metabolism , Phosphoproteins/genetics , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , RNA, Viral/standards , Reagent Kits, Diagnostic/supply & distribution , Reference Standards , Reproducibility of Results , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Viral Genome Packaging
Clin Chem ; 68(1): 153-162, 2021 12 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1462309


BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA quantities, measured by reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), have been proposed to stratify clinical risk or determine analytical performance targets. We investigated reproducibility and how setting diagnostic cutoffs altered the clinical sensitivity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing. METHODS: Quantitative SARS-CoV-2 RNA distributions [quantification cycle (Cq) and copies/mL] from more than 6000 patients from 3 clinical laboratories in United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Republic of Korea were analyzed. Impact of Cq cutoffs on clinical sensitivity was assessed. The June/July 2020 INSTAND external quality assessment scheme SARS-CoV-2 materials were used to estimate laboratory reported copies/mL and to estimate the variation in copies/mL for a given Cq. RESULTS: When the WHO-suggested Cq cutoff of 25 was applied, the clinical sensitivity dropped to about 16%. Clinical sensitivity also dropped to about 27% when a simulated limit of detection of 106 copies/mL was applied. The interlaboratory variation for a given Cq value was >1000 fold in copies/mL (99% CI). CONCLUSION: While RT-qPCR has been instrumental in the response to COVID-19, we recommend Cq (cycle threshold or crossing point) values not be used to set clinical cutoffs or diagnostic performance targets due to poor interlaboratory reproducibility; calibrated copy-based units (used elsewhere in virology) offer more reproducible alternatives. We also report a phenomenon where diagnostic performance may change relative to the effective reproduction number. Our findings indicate that the disparities between patient populations across time are an important consideration when evaluating or deploying diagnostic tests. This is especially relevant to the emergency situation of an evolving pandemic.

COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/standards , COVID-19 , Nucleic Acids , Belgium , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Nucleic Acids/analysis , RNA, Viral/analysis , Reproducibility of Results , Republic of Korea , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity , United Kingdom
Clin Chim Acta ; 521: 9-18, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1272326


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the severe acute SARS-CoV-2 virus has undeniably highlighted the importance of reliable nucleic acid quantification. Digital PCR (dPCR) is capable of the absolute quantification of nucleic acids. METHOD: By using the droplet dPCR (QX200) and the digital real-time PCR (LOAA), the copy numbers were compared via multiple assays for three distinct targerts; EGFR DNA, SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1 RNA. RESULTS: The droplet dPCR and digital real-time PCR showed similar copy numbers for both DNA and RNA quantification. When the limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantitation (LOQ) of each method were estimated for DNA and RNA targets, the digital real-time PCR showed a higher sensitivity and precision especially with low copy number targets. CONCLUSION: The breath of nucleic acid testing in diagnostic applications continues to expand. In this study we applied common diagnostic targets to a novel digital real-time PCR methodology. It performed comparably to the established dPCR method with distinctive advantages and disadvantages for implementing in laboratories. These rapidly developing dPCR systems can be applied to benefit the accurate and sensitive nucleic acid testing for various clinical areas.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , DNA , ErbB Receptors , Humans , Pandemics , RNA, Viral/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction