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Int J Mol Sci ; 21(15)2020 Jul 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-693630


To control the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent its resurgence in areas preparing for a return of economic activities, a method for a rapid, simple, and inexpensive point-of-care diagnosis and mass screening is urgently needed. We developed and evaluated a one-step colorimetric reverse-transcriptional loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay (COVID-19-LAMP) for detection of SARS-CoV-2, using SARS-CoV-2 isolate and respiratory samples from patients with COVID-19 (n = 223) and other respiratory virus infections (n = 143). The assay involves simple equipment and techniques and low cost, without the need for expensive qPCR machines, and the result, indicated by color change, is easily interpreted by naked eyes. COVID-19-LAMP can detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA with detection limit of 42 copies/reaction. Of 223 respiratory samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 by qRT-PCR, 212 and 219 were positive by COVID-19-LAMP at 60 and 90 min (sensitivities of 95.07% and 98.21%) respectively, with the highest sensitivities among nasopharyngeal swabs (96.88% and 98.96%), compared to sputum/deep throat saliva samples (94.03% and 97.02%), and throat swab samples (93.33% and 98.33%). None of the 143 samples with other respiratory viruses were positive by COVID-19-LAMP, showing 100% specificity. Samples with higher viral load showed shorter detection time, some as early as 30 min. This inexpensive, highly sensitive and specific COVID-19-LAMP assay can be useful for rapid deployment as mobile diagnostic units to resource-limiting areas for point-of-care diagnosis, and for unlimited high-throughput mass screening at borders to reduce cross-regional transmission.

Betacoronavirus/genetics , Colorimetry/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Mass Screening/economics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/analysis , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Colorimetry/economics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Limit of Detection , Nasopharynx/virology , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Point-of-Care Systems , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Viral Load
J Clin Microbiol ; 58(5)2020 04 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-197207


On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, China. Subsequent investigations identified a novel coronavirus, now named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), from the affected patients. Highly sensitive and specific laboratory diagnostics are important for controlling the rapidly evolving SARS-CoV-2-associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic. In this study, we developed and compared the performance of three novel real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assays targeting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp)/helicase (Hel), spike (S), and nucleocapsid (N) genes of SARS-CoV-2 with that of the reported RdRp-P2 assay, which is used in >30 European laboratories. Among the three novel assays, the COVID-19-RdRp/Hel assay had the lowest limit of detection in vitro (1.8 50% tissue culture infective doses [TCID50]/ml with genomic RNA and 11.2 RNA copies/reaction with in vitro RNA transcripts). Among 273 specimens from 15 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in Hong Kong, 77 (28.2%) were positive by both the COVID-19-RdRp/Hel and RdRp-P2 assays. The COVID-19-RdRp/Hel assay was positive for an additional 42 RdRp-P2-negative specimens (119/273 [43.6%] versus 77/273 [28.2%]; P < 0.001), including 29/120 (24.2%) respiratory tract specimens and 13/153 (8.5%) non-respiratory tract specimens. The mean viral load of these specimens was 3.21 × 104 RNA copies/ml (range, 2.21 × 102 to 4.71 × 105 RNA copies/ml). The COVID-19-RdRp/Hel assay did not cross-react with other human-pathogenic coronaviruses and respiratory pathogens in cell culture and clinical specimens, whereas the RdRp-P2 assay cross-reacted with SARS-CoV in cell culture. The highly sensitive and specific COVID-19-RdRp/Hel assay may help to improve the laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19.

Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Clinical Laboratory Techniques , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction/standards , Viral Proteins/genetics , Adult , Aged , Animals , China , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Female , Humans , In Vitro Techniques , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/standards , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Sensitivity and Specificity , Vero Cells
Int J Mol Sci ; 21(7)2020 Apr 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-42099


The pandemic novel coronavirus infection, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has affected at least 190 countries or territories, with 465,915 confirmed cases and 21,031 deaths. In a containment-based strategy, rapid, sensitive and specific testing is important in epidemiological control and clinical management. Using 96 SARS-CoV-2 and 104 non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomes and our in-house program, GolayMetaMiner, four specific regions longer than 50 nucleotides in the SARS-CoV-2 genome were identified. Primers were designed to target the longest and previously untargeted nsp2 region and optimized as a probe-free real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay. The new COVID-19-nsp2 assay had a limit of detection (LOD) of 1.8 TCID50/mL and did not amplify other human-pathogenic coronaviruses and respiratory viruses. Assay reproducibility in terms of cycle threshold (Cp) values was satisfactory, with the total imprecision (% CV) values well below 5%. Evaluation of the new assay using 59 clinical specimens from 14 confirmed cases showed 100% concordance with our previously developed COVID-19-RdRp/Hel reference assay. A rapid, sensitive, SARS-CoV-2-specific real-time RT-PCR assay, COVID-19-nsp2, was developed.

Betacoronavirus/genetics , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Genome, Viral , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/analysis , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Humans , Pandemics , Reproducibility of Results , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , Sensitivity and Specificity