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Clin Chem ; 68(1): 143-152, 2021 12 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-20243230


BACKGROUND: The urgent need for massively scaled clinical testing for SARS-CoV-2, along with global shortages of critical reagents and supplies, has necessitated development of streamlined laboratory testing protocols. Conventional nucleic acid testing for SARS-CoV-2 involves collection of a clinical specimen with a nasopharyngeal swab in transport medium, nucleic acid extraction, and quantitative reverse-transcription PCR (RT-qPCR). As testing has scaled across the world, the global supply chain has buckled, rendering testing reagents and materials scarce. To address shortages, we developed SwabExpress, an end-to-end protocol developed to employ mass produced anterior nares swabs and bypass the requirement for transport media and nucleic acid extraction. METHODS: We evaluated anterior nares swabs, transported dry and eluted in low-TE buffer as a direct-to-RT-qPCR alternative to extraction-dependent viral transport media. We validated our protocol of using heat treatment for viral inactivation and added a proteinase K digestion step to reduce amplification interference. We tested this protocol across archived and prospectively collected swab specimens to fine-tune test performance. RESULTS: After optimization, SwabExpress has a low limit of detection at 2-4 molecules/µL, 100% sensitivity, and 99.4% specificity when compared side by side with a traditional RT-qPCR protocol employing extraction. On real-world specimens, SwabExpress outperforms an automated extraction system while simultaneously reducing cost and hands-on time. CONCLUSION: SwabExpress is a simplified workflow that facilitates scaled testing for COVID-19 without sacrificing test performance. It may serve as a template for the simplification of PCR-based clinical laboratory tests, particularly in times of critical shortages during pandemics.

COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Clinical Laboratory Techniques , Humans , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling
Acad Emerg Med ; 2022 Oct 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2240932


OBJECTIVES: Efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance must consider the critical role of the emergency department (ED) in providing health care to underserved patients. Focusing on patients who lacked primary care, we sought to elicit the perspectives of unvaccinated ED patients regarding COVID-19 vaccination concerns and potential approaches that might increase their vaccine acceptance. METHODS: We conducted this qualitative interview study from August to November 2021 at four urban EDs in San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Durham, North Carolina; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We included ED patients who were ≥18 years old, fluent in English or Spanish, had not received a COVID-19 vaccine, and did not have primary care physicians or clinics. We excluded patients who were unable to complete an interview, in police custody, under suspicion of active COVID-19 illness, or presented with a psychiatric chief complaint. We enrolled until we reached thematic saturation in relevant domains. We analyzed interview transcripts with a content analysis approach focused on identifying concerns about COVID-19 vaccines and ideas regarding the promotion of vaccine acceptance and potential trusted messengers. RESULTS: Of 65 patients enrolled, 28 (43%) identified as female, their median age was 36 years (interquartile range 29-49), and 12 (18%) interviews were conducted in Spanish. Primary concerns about COVID-19 vaccines included risk of complications, known and unknown side effects, and fear of contracting COVID-19 from vaccines. Trust played a major role for patients in deciding which sources to use for vaccine information and in engendering vaccine acceptance. Health care providers and family or friends were commonly cited as trusted messengers of information. CONCLUSIONS: We characterized concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, uncovered themes that may promote vaccine acceptance, and identified trusted messengers-primarily health care professionals. These data may inform the development of nuanced COVID-19 vaccine messaging platforms to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among underserved ED populations.