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N Z Med J ; 135(1559): 53-58, 2022 08 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2147482


AIM: To compare detection of SARS-CoV-2 from paired nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) and saliva using molecular methods in common use for testing swabs in New Zealand. METHOD: Samples from individuals testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin were tested at the local laboratories using methods previously established for these sample types. RESULTS: One hundred and ninety-six paired samples from unique individuals were tested, with 46 (23%) positive from either sample type, of which 43/46 (93%) tested positive from NPS, and 42/46 (91%) from saliva, indicating no significant difference in performance between sample types (p=0.69). The average Δ Ct between saliva and nasopharyngeal swabs overall across the sample set was 0.22 cycles, indicating excellent concordance; however, the difference between NPS and saliva collected from the same individual was quite variable with up to 19 cycles difference between the sample types. CONCLUSION: We found that saliva is an equivalent sample type to nasopharyngeal swab for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in our laboratories using multiple assay combinations and is suitable for use as a diagnostic and surveillance test for selected groups of individuals.

COVID-19 , Nucleic Acids , COVID-19/diagnosis , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Humans , Nasopharynx , New Zealand , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Saliva , Specimen Handling/methods
J Virol Methods ; 289: 114042, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-988684


Utilising diverse molecular platforms has formed a solid foundation in New Zealand's COVID-19 response. We evaluated multiple extraction and PCR assays for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. We included 65 positive samples which were run on the Panther Fusion using a laboratory developed test (LDT, E gene target). Where viral RNA was extracted by MagNA Pure (MP) 96 extraction platform or EpMotion 5075/Geneaid extraction kit, SARS-CoV-2 detection was performed on Light Cycler (LC) 480 using a LDT (E gene) or 3 commercial assays; Certest Viasure (Orf1ab, N genes) GenePro (E, RdRp genes) and A* Star Fortitude (proprietary target). Median Cts on LC 480 LDT for specimens (n = 9) extracted on MP 96 (26.6) were lower than on EpMotion (31.6) whereas median Cts for specimens (n = 10) extracted on the Panther Fusion LDT (23.1) were comparable with MP 96 /LC480 LDT (23.6). Specimens tested on Panther Fusion LDT (n = 28), extracted by MP 96, and amplified using commercial assays showed good concordance with a few exceptions; lower median Ct values were seen for 2 targets on GenePro (16.9, 21.5) and Viasure (19.5, 21.1) than for the Panther Fusion LDT (24.2) and A* Star Fortitude (25.6). Specimens tested on MP 96 (n = 18) had comparable results using commercial assays, with lower median Cts for Viasure (22.2, 23.7) compared with the LC 480 LDT (24.7), GenePro (24.7,25.7) and A*Fortitude (25.1) assays. The study provides an early assessment of the performance characteristics of 3 extraction methods for viral RNA and 5 PCR assays for the detection of SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , RNA, Viral/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , New Zealand/epidemiology , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling
PeerJ ; 8: e9863, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-782434


BACKGROUND: Serological assays that detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are critical for determining past infection and investigating immune responses in the COVID-19 pandemic. We established ELISA-based immunoassays using locally produced antigens when New Zealand went into a nationwide lockdown and the supply chain of diagnostic reagents was a widely held domestic concern. The relationship between serum antibody binding measured by ELISA and neutralising capacity was investigated using a surrogate viral neutralisation test (sVNT). METHODS: A pre-pandemic sera panel (n = 113), including respiratory infections with symptom overlap with COVID-19, was used to establish assay specificity. Sera from PCR­confirmed SARS-CoV-2 patients (n = 21), and PCR-negative patients with respiratory symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (n = 82) that presented to the two largest hospitals in Auckland during the lockdown period were included. A two-step IgG ELISA based on the receptor binding domain (RBD) and spike protein was adapted to determine seropositivity, and neutralising antibodies that block the RBD/hACE­2 interaction were quantified by sVNT. RESULTS: The calculated cut-off (>0.2) in the two-step ELISA maximised specificity by classifying all pre-pandemic samples as negative. Sera from all PCR-confirmed COVID-19 patients were classified as seropositive by ELISA ≥7 days after symptom onset. There was 100% concordance between the two-step ELISA and the sVNT with all 7+ day sera from PCR­confirmed COVID-19 patients also classified as positive with respect to neutralising antibodies. Of the symptomatic PCR-negative cohort, one individual with notable travel history was classified as positive by two-step ELISA and sVNT, demonstrating the value of serology in detecting prior infection. CONCLUSIONS: These serological assays were established and assessed at a time when human activity was severely restricted in New Zealand. This was achieved by generous sharing of reagents and technical expertise by the international scientific community, and highly collaborative efforts of scientists and clinicians across the country. The assays have immediate utility in supporting clinical diagnostics, understanding transmission in high-risk cohorts and underpinning longer­term 'exit' strategies based on effective vaccines and therapeutics.