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Microbiol Spectr ; 10(1): e0068121, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1691411


The N501Y amino acid mutation caused by a single point substitution A23063T in the spike gene of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is possessed by three variants of concern (VOCs), B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. A rapid screening tool using this mutation is important for surveillance during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We developed and validated a single nucleotide polymorphism real-time reverse transcription PCR assay using allelic discrimination of the spike gene N501Y mutation to screen for potential variants of concern and differentiate them from SARS-CoV-2 lineages without the N501Y mutation. A total of 160 clinical specimens positive for SARS-CoV-2 were characterized as mutant (N501Y) or N501 wild type by Sanger sequencing and were subsequently tested with the N501Y single nucleotide polymorphism real-time reverse transcriptase PCR assay. Our assay, compared to Sanger sequencing for single nucleotide polymorphism detection, demonstrated positive percent agreement of 100% for all 57 specimens displaying the N501Y mutation, which were confirmed by Sanger sequencing to be typed as A23063T, including one specimen with mixed signal for wild type and mutant. Negative percent agreement was 100% in all 103 specimens typed as N501 wild type, with A23063 identified as wild type by Sanger sequencing. The identification of circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages carrying an N501Y mutation is critical for surveillance purposes. Current identification methods rely primarily on Sanger sequencing or whole-genome sequencing, which are time consuming, labor intensive, and costly. The assay described herein is an efficient tool for high-volume specimen screening for SARS-CoV-2 VOCs and for selecting specimens for confirmatory Sanger or whole-genome sequencing. IMPORTANCE During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, several variants of concern (VOCs) have been detected, for example, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and B.1.617.2. The VOCs pose a threat to public health efforts to control the spread of the virus. As such, surveillance and monitoring of these VOCs is of the utmost importance. Our real-time RT-PCR assay helps with surveillance by providing an easy method to quickly survey SARS-CoV-2 specimens for VOCs carrying the N501Y single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). Samples that test positive for the N501Y mutation in the spike gene with our assay can be sequenced to identify the lineage. Thus, our assay helps to focus surveillance efforts and decrease turnaround times.

COVID-19/diagnosis , Mutation, Missense , Point Mutation , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Alleles , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Genes, Viral , Humans , Mass Screening , Ontario/epidemiology , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , Population Surveillance , Prevalence , Reproducibility of Results , Sensitivity and Specificity
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol ; 43(9): 1179-1183, 2022 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1586120


OBJECTIVES: Performance characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid detection assays are understudied within contexts of low pre-test probability, including screening asymptomatic persons without epidemiological links to confirmed cases, or asymptomatic surveillance testing. SARS-CoV-2 detection without symptoms may represent presymptomatic or asymptomatic infection, resolved infection with persistent RNA shedding, or a false-positive test. This study assessed the positive predictive value of SARS-CoV-2 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) assays by retesting positive specimens from 5 pre-test probability groups ranging from high to low with an alternate assay. METHODS: In total, 122 rRT-PCR positive specimens collected from unique patients between March and July 2020 were retested using a laboratory-developed nested RT-PCR assay targeting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene followed by Sanger sequencing. RESULTS: Significantly fewer (15.6%) positive results in the lowest pre-test probability group (facilities with institution-wide screening having ≤3 positive asymptomatic cases) were reproduced with the nested RdRp gene RT-PCR assay than in each of the 4 groups with higher pre-test probability (individual group range, 50.0%-85.0%). CONCLUSIONS: Large-scale SARS-CoV-2 screening testing initiatives among low pre-test probability populations should be evaluated thoroughly prior to implementation given the risk of false-positive results and consequent potential for harm at the individual and population level.

COVID-19 , Nucleic Acids , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Predictive Value of Tests , Probability , RNA , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reverse Transcription , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
J Clin Virol ; 141: 104896, 2021 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1267740


BACKGROUND: Point-of-care tests (POCT) are promising tools to detect SARS-CoV-2 in specific settings. Initial reports suggest the ID NOW™ COVID-19 assay (Abbott Diagnostics Inc, USA) is less sensitive than standard real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) assays. This has raised concern over false negatives in SARS-CoV-2 POCT. OBJECTIVES: We compared the performance of the ID NOW™ COVID-19 assay to our in-house rRT-PCR assay to assess whether dry swabs used in ID NOW™ testing could be stored in transport media and be re-tested by rRT-PCR for redundancy and to provide material for further investigation. METHODS: Paired respiratory swabs collected from patients at three acute care hospitals were used. One swab in transport media (McMaster Molecular Media (MMM)) was tested for SARS-CoV-2 by a laboratory-developed two-target rRT-PCR assay. The second was stored dry in a sterile container and tested by the ID NOW™ COVID-19 assay. Following ID NOW™ testing, dry swabs were stored in MMM for up to 48 h and re-tested by rRT-PCR. Serially diluted SARS-CoV-2 particles were used to assess the impact of heat inactivation and storage time. RESULTS: Respiratory swabs (n = 343) from 179 individuals were included. Using rRT-PCR results as the comparator, the ID NOW™ COVID-19 assay had positive (PPA) and negative (NPA) percent agreements of 87.0% (95% CI:0.74-0.94) and 99.7% (95% CI:0.98-0.99). Re-tested swabs placed in MMM following ID NOW testing had PPA and NPA of 88.8% (95% CI:0.76-0.95) and 99.7% (95% CI:0.98-0.99), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Storing spent dry swabs in transport media for redundancy rRT-PCR testing is a potential approach to address possible false negatives with the ID NOW™ COVID-19 assay.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Point-of-Care Testing , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling