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EMBO Rep ; 24(5): e57162, 2023 05 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2269718


Throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, limited diagnostic capacities prevented sentinel testing, demonstrating the need for novel testing infrastructures. Here, we describe the setup of a cost-effective platform that can be employed in a high-throughput manner, which allows surveillance testing as an acute pandemic control and preparedness tool, exemplified by SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics in an academic environment. The strategy involves self-sampling based on gargling saline, pseudonymized sample handling, automated RNA extraction, and viral RNA detection using a semiquantitative multiplexed colorimetric reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay with an analytical sensitivity comparable with RT-qPCR. We provide standard operating procedures and an integrated software solution for all workflows, including sample logistics, analysis by colorimetry or sequencing, and communication of results. We evaluated factors affecting the viral load and the stability of gargling samples as well as the diagnostic sensitivity of the RT-LAMP assay. In parallel, we estimated the economic costs of setting up and running the test station. We performed > 35,000 tests, with an average turnover time of < 6 h from sample arrival to result announcement. Altogether, our work provides a blueprint for fast, sensitive, scalable, cost- and labor-efficient RT-LAMP diagnostics, which is independent of potentially limiting clinical diagnostics supply chains.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Pandemics/prevention & control , Sensitivity and Specificity , RNA, Viral/genetics
Infection ; 50(5): 1281-1293, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1783014


PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to develop a scalable approach for direct comparison of the analytical sensitivities of commercially available SARS-CoV-2 antigen point-of-care tests (AgPOCTs) to rapidly identify poor-performing products. METHODS: We present a methodology for quick assessment of the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 AgPOCTs suitable for quality evaluation of many different products. We established reference samples with high, medium, and low SARS-CoV-2 viral loads along with a SARS-CoV-2 negative control sample. Test samples were used to semi-quantitatively assess the analytical sensitivities of 32 different commercial AgPOCTs in a head-to-head comparison. RESULTS: Among 32 SARS-CoV-2 AgPOCTs tested, we observe sensitivity differences across a broad range of viral loads (9.8 × 108 to 1.8 × 105 SARS-CoV-2 genome copies per ml). 23 AgPOCTs detected the Ct25 test sample (1.6 × 106 copies/ml), while only five tests detected the Ct28 test sample (1.8 × 105 copies/ml). In the low-range of analytical sensitivity, we found three saliva spit tests only delivering positive results for the Ct21 sample (2.7 × 107 copies/ml). Comparison with published data supports our AgPOCT ranking. Importantly, we identified an AgPOCT widely offered, which did not reliably recognize the sample with the highest viral load (Ct16 test sample with 9.8 × 108 copies/ml) leading to serious doubts about its usefulness in SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics. CONCLUSION: The results show that the rapid sensitivity assessment procedure presented here provides useful estimations on the analytical sensitivities of 32 AgPOCTs and identified a widely-spread AgPOCT with concerningly low sensitivity.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Humans , Point-of-Care Systems , Point-of-Care Testing , Sensitivity and Specificity
Nat Biotechnol ; 39(12): 1556-1562, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1287813


Frequent testing of large population groups combined with contact tracing and isolation measures will be crucial for containing Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreaks. Here we present LAMP-Seq, a modified, highly scalable reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) method. Unpurified biosamples are barcoded and amplified in a single heat step, and pooled products are analyzed en masse by sequencing. Using commercial reagents, LAMP-Seq has a limit of detection of ~2.2 molecules per µl at 95% confidence and near-perfect specificity for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 given its sequence readout. Clinical validation of an open-source protocol with 676 swab samples, 98 of which were deemed positive by standard RT-qPCR, demonstrated 100% sensitivity in individuals with cycle threshold values of up to 33 and a specificity of 99.7%, at a very low material cost. With a time-to-result of fewer than 24 h, low cost and little new infrastructure requirement, LAMP-Seq can be readily deployed for frequent testing as part of an integrated public health surveillance program.

COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19 , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans