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1.
PLoS One ; 17(1): e0259886, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1666744

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 has exposed stark inequalities between resource-rich and resource-poor countries. International UN- and WHO-led efforts, such as COVAX, have provided SARS-CoV-2 vaccines but half of African countries have less than 2% vaccinated in their population, and only 15 have reached 10% by October 2021, further disadvantaging local economic recovery. Key for this implementation and preventing further mutation and spread is the frequency of voluntary [asymptomatic] testing. It is limited by expensive PCR and LAMP tests, uncomfortable probes deep in the throat or nose, and the availability of hardware to administer in remote locations. There is an urgent need for an inexpensive "end-to-end" system to deliver sensitive and reliable, non-invasive tests in resource-poor and field-test conditions. We introduce a non-invasive saliva-based LAMP colorimetric test kit and a $51 lab-in-a-backpack system that detects as few as 4 viral RNA copies per µL. It consists of eight chemicals, a thermometer, a thermos bottle, two micropipettes and a 1000-4000 rcf electronically operated centrifuge made from recycled computer hard drives (CentriDrive). The centrifuge includes a 3D-printed rotor and a 12 V rechargeable Li-ion battery, and its 12 V standard also allows wiring directly to automobile batteries, to enable field-use of this and other tests in low infrastructure settings. The test takes 90 minutes to process 6 samples and has reagent costs of $3.5 per sample. The non-invasive nature of saliva testing would allow higher penetration of testing and wider adoption of the test across cultures and settings (including refugee camps and disaster zones). The attached graphical procedure would make the test suitable for self-testing at home, performing it in the field, or in mobile testing centers by minimally trained staff.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , RNA, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , Colorimetry , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/economics , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/instrumentation , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/economics , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/instrumentation , Point-of-Care Systems , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Saliva/virology
2.
Anal Biochem ; 641: 114565, 2022 03 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1632512

ABSTRACT

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the most widely used method for nucleic acids amplification. To date, a huge number of versatile PCR techniques have been developed. One of the relevant goals is to shorten PCR duration, which can be achieved in several ways. Here, we report on the results regarding nucleic acids amplification by convective PCR (cPCR) in standard 0.2 ml polypropylene microtubes. The following conditions were found to be optimal for such amplification: 1) 70 µl reaction volume, 2) the supply of external temperature 145°Ð¡ for the denaturation zone and 0°Ð¡ for the annealing zone, 3) ∼30° inclination of the microtube main axis, 4) the use of nearby primers, and 5) duration of the reaction 15-20 min. At these conditions, the amplification products are accumulated in an amount sufficient to be registered by gel electrophoresis, and high sensitivity of the reaction comparable to that of conventional PCR is achieved. cPCR provided the reliable detection of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus RNA isolated from nasopharyngeal swabs of COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/instrumentation , COVID-19/diagnosis , Polymerase Chain Reaction/instrumentation , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , Convection , Humans , Polymerase Chain Reaction/economics , Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Temperature , Time Factors
3.
Rev Med Virol ; 31(6): e2215, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1573992

ABSTRACT

The novel coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) public health emergency has caused enormous loss around the world. This pandemic is a concrete example of the existing gap between availability of advanced diagnostics and current need for cost-effective methodology. The advent of the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay provided an innovative tool for establishing a rapid diagnostic technique based on the molecular amplification of pathogen RNA or DNA. In this review, we explore the applications, diagnostic effectiveness of LAMP test for molecular diagnosis and surveillance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Our results show that LAMP can be considered as an effective point-of-care test for the diagnosis of Covid-19 in endemic areas, especially for low- and middle-income countries.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , Point-of-Care Testing/organization & administration , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Bibliometrics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/instrumentation , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/economics , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/instrumentation , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/economics , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/instrumentation , Point-of-Care Testing/economics , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Sensitivity and Specificity
4.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 21658, 2021 11 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1503936

ABSTRACT

More than one year since Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak, the gold standard technique for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) detection is still the RT-qPCR. This is a limitation to increase testing capacities, particularly at developing countries, as expensive reagents and equipment are required. We developed a two steps end point RT-PCR reaction with SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid (N) gene and Ribonuclease P (RNase P) specific primers where viral amplicons were verified by agarose gel electrophoresis. We carried out a clinical performance and analytical sensitivity evaluation for this two-steps end point RT-PCR method with 242 nasopharyngeal samples using the CDC RT-qPCR protocol as a gold standard technique. With a specificity of 95.8%, a sensitivity of 95.1%, and a limit of detection of 20 viral RNA copies/uL, this two steps end point RT-PCR assay is an affordable and reliable method for SARS-CoV-2 detection. This protocol would allow to extend COVID-19 diagnosis to basic molecular biology laboratories with a potential positive impact in surveillance programs at developing countries.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Testing/methods , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , DNA Primers , Electrophoresis, Agar Gel/methods , Humans , Laboratories , Nasopharynx/virology , RNA, Viral/genetics , Ribonuclease P/genetics , Ribonuclease P/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Sensitivity and Specificity
5.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 21460, 2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1500518

ABSTRACT

Population screening played a substantial role in safely reopening the economy and avoiding new outbreaks of COVID-19. PCR-based pooled screening makes it possible to test the population with limited resources by pooling multiple individual samples. Our study compared different population-wide screening methods as transmission-mitigating interventions, including pooled PCR, individual PCR, and antigen screening. Incorporating testing-isolation process and individual-level viral load trajectories into an epidemic model, we further studied the impacts of testing-isolation on test sensitivities. Results show that the testing-isolation process could maintain a stable test sensitivity during the outbreak by removing most infected individuals, especially during the epidemic decline. Moreover, we compared the efficiency, accuracy, and cost of different screening methods during the pandemic. Our results show that PCR-based pooled screening is cost-effective in reversing the pandemic at low prevalence. When the prevalence is high, PCR-based pooled screening may not stop the outbreak. In contrast, antigen screening with sufficient frequency could reverse the epidemic, despite the high cost and the large numbers of false positives in the screening process.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Antigens, Viral/genetics , Antigens, Viral/metabolism , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , False Negative Reactions , False Positive Reactions , Humans , Pandemics , Polymerase Chain Reaction/economics , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Viral Load
6.
Microbiol Spectr ; 9(2): e0108921, 2021 10 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1467673

ABSTRACT

Routine testing for SARS-CoV-2 is rare for institutes of higher education due to prohibitive costs and supply chain delays. During spring 2021, we routinely tested all residential students 1 to 2 times per week using pooled, RNA-extraction-free, reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) testing of saliva at a cost of $0.43/sample with same-day results. The limit of detection was 500 copies/ml on individual samples, and analysis indicates 1,000 and 2,500 copies/ml in pools of 5 and 10, respectively, which is orders of magnitude more sensitive than rapid antigen tests. Importantly, saliva testing flagged 83% of semester positives (43,884 tests administered) and was 95.6% concordant with nasopharyngeal diagnostic results (69.0% concordant on the first test when the nucleocapsid gene (N1) cycle threshold (CT) value was >30). Moreover, testing reduced weekly cases by 59.9% in the spring despite far looser restrictions, allowing for more normalcy while eliminating outbreaks. We also coupled our testing with a survey to clarify symptoms and transmissibility among college-age students. While only 8.5% remained asymptomatic throughout, symptoms were disparate and often cold-like (e.g., only 37.3% developed a fever), highlighting the difficulty with relying on symptom monitoring among this demographic. Based on reported symptom progression, we estimate that we removed 348 days of infectious individuals by routine testing. Interestingly, viral load (CT value) at the time of testing did not affect transmissibility (R2 = 0.0085), though those experiencing noticeable symptoms at the time of testing were more likely to spread the virus to close contacts (31.6% versus 14.3%). Together, our findings support routine testing for reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Implementation of cost- and resource-efficient approaches should receive strong consideration in communities that lack herd immunity. IMPORTANCE This study highlights the utility of routine testing for SARS-CoV-2 using pooled saliva while maintaining high sensitivity of detection (under 2,500 copies/ml) and rapid turnaround of high volume (up to 930 samples in 8 h by two technicians and one quantitative PCR [qPCR] machine). This pooled approach allowed us to test all residential students 1 to 2 times per week on our college campus during the spring of 2021 and flagged 83% of our semester positives. Most students were asymptomatic or presented with symptoms mirroring common colds at the time of testing, allowing for removal of infectious individuals before they otherwise would have sought testing. To our knowledge, the total per-sample consumable cost of $0.43 is the lowest to date. With many communities still lagging in vaccination rates, routine testing that is cost-efficient highlights the capacity of the laboratory's role in controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19/diagnosis , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Mass Screening/economics , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction/economics , Saliva/virology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Humans , Illinois , Limit of Detection , Mass Screening/methods , Nasopharynx/virology , Phosphoproteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Universities , Viral Load/methods
7.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0257806, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1443844

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Most universities that re-open in the United States (US) for in-person instruction have implemented the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) guidelines. The value of additional interventions to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is unclear. We calculated the cost-effectiveness and cases averted of each intervention in combination with implementing the CDC guidelines. METHODS: We built a decision-analytic model to examine the cost-effectiveness of interventions to re-open universities. The interventions included implementing the CDC guidelines alone and in combination with 1) a symptom-checking mobile application, 2) university-provided standardized, high filtration masks, 3) thermal cameras for temperature screening, 4) one-time entry ('gateway') polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, and 5) weekly PCR testing. We also modeled a package of interventions ('package intervention') that combines the CDC guidelines with using the symptom-checking mobile application, standardized masks, gateway PCR testing, and weekly PCR testing. The direct and indirect costs were calculated in 2020 US dollars. We also provided an online interface that allows the user to change model parameters. RESULTS: All interventions averted cases of COVID-19. When the prevalence of actively infectious cases reached 0.1%, providing standardized, high filtration masks saved money and improved health relative to implementing the CDC guidelines alone and in combination with using the symptom-checking mobile application, thermal cameras, and gateway testing. Compared with standardized masks, weekly PCR testing cost $9.27 million (95% Credible Interval [CrI]: cost-saving-$77.36 million)/QALY gained. Compared with weekly PCR testing, the 'package' intervention cost $137,877 (95% CrI: $3,108-$19.11 million)/QALY gained. At both a prevalence of 1% and 2%, the 'package' intervention saved money and improved health compared to all the other interventions. CONCLUSIONS: All interventions were effective at averting infection from COVID-19. However, when the prevalence of actively infectious cases in the community was low, only standardized, high filtration masks clearly provided value.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/economics , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Humans , Masks/economics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , United States , Universities
8.
Trials ; 22(1): 39, 2021 Jan 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1440947

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: In this cluster-randomised controlled study (CoV-Surv Study), four different "active" SARS-CoV-2 testing strategies for general population surveillance are evaluated for their effectiveness in determining and predicting the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in a given population. In addition, the costs and cost-effectiveness of the four surveillance strategies will be assessed. Further, this trial is supplemented by a qualitative component to determine the acceptability of each strategy. Findings will inform the choice of the most effective, acceptable and affordable strategy for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance, with the most effective and cost-effective strategy becoming part of the local public health department's current routine health surveillance activities. Investigating its everyday performance will allow us to examine the strategy's applicability to real time prevalence prediction and the usefulness of the resulting information for local policy makers to implement countermeasures that effectively prevent future nationwide lockdowns. The authors would like to emphasize the importance and relevance of this study and its expected findings in the context of population-based disease surveillance, especially in respect to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In Germany, but also in many other countries, COVID-19 surveillance has so far largely relied on passive surveillance strategies that identify individuals with clinical symptoms, monitor those cases who then tested positive for the virus, followed by tracing of individuals in close contact to those positive cases. To achieve higher effectiveness in population surveillance and to reliably predict the course of an outbreak, screening and monitoring of infected individuals without major symptoms (about 40% of the population) will be necessary. While current testing capacities are also used to identify such asymptomatic cases, this rather passive approach is not suitable in generating reliable population-based estimates of the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers to allow any dependable predictions on the course of the pandemic. To better control and manage the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, current strategies therefore need to be complemented by an active surveillance of the wider population, i.e. routinely conducted testing and monitoring activities to identify and isolate infected individuals regardless of their clinical symptoms. Such active surveillance strategies will enable more effective prevention of the spread of the virus as they can generate more precise population-based parameters during a pandemic. This essential information will be required in order to determine the best strategic and targeted short-term countermeasures to limit infection spread locally. TRIAL DESIGN: This trial implements a cluster-randomised, two-factorial controlled, prospective, interventional, single-blinded design with four study arms, each representing a different SARS-CoV-2 testing and surveillance strategy. PARTICIPANTS: Eligible are individuals age 7 years or older living in Germany's Rhein-Neckar Region who consent to provide a saliva sample (all four arms) after completion of a brief questionnaire (two arms only). For the qualitative component, different samples of study participants and non-participants (i.e. eligible for study, but refuse to participate) will be identified for additional interviews. For these interviews, only individuals age 18 years or older are eligible. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR: Of the four surveillance strategies to be assessed and compared, Strategy A1 is considered the gold standard for prevalence estimation and used to determine bias in other arms. To determine the cost-effectiveness, each strategy is compared to status quo, defined as the currently practiced passive surveillance approach. Strategy A1: Individuals (one per household) receive information and study material by mail with instructions on how to produce a saliva sample and how to return the sample by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the sample is tested for SARS-CoV-2 using Reverse Transcription Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP). Strategy A2: Individuals (one per household) receive information and study material by mail with instructions on how to produce their own as well as saliva samples from each household member and how to return these samples by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the samples are tested for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-LAMP. Strategy B1: Individuals (one per household) receive information by mail on how to complete a brief pre-screening questionnaire which asks about COVID-19 related clinical symptoms and risk exposures. Only individuals whose pre-screening score crosses a defined threshold, will then receive additional study material by mail with instructions on how to produce a saliva sample and how to return the sample by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the saliva sample is tested for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-LAMP. Strategy B2: Individuals (one per household) receive information by mail on how to complete a brief pre-screening questionnaire which asks about COVID-19 related clinical symptoms. Only individuals whose pre-screening score crosses a defined threshold, will then receive additional study material by mail with instructions how to produce their own as well as saliva samples from each household member and how to return these samples by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the samples are tested for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-LAMP. In each strategy, RT-LAMP positive samples are additionally analyzed with qPCR in order to minimize the number of false positives. MAIN OUTCOMES: The identification of the one best strategy will be determined by a set of parameters. Primary outcomes include costs per correctly screened person, costs per positive case, positive detection rate, and precision of positive detection rate. Secondary outcomes include participation rate, costs per asymptomatic case, prevalence estimates, number of asymptomatic cases per study arm, ratio of symptomatic to asymptomatic cases per study arm, participant satisfaction. Additional study components (not part of the trial) include cost effectiveness of each of the four surveillance strategies compared to passive monitoring (i.e. status quo), development of a prognostic model to predict hospital utilization caused by SARS-CoV-2, time from test shipment to test application and time from test shipment to test result, and perception and preferences of the persons to be tested with regard to test strategies. RANDOMISATION: Samples are drawn in three batches of three continuous weeks. Randomisation follows a two-stage process. First, a total of 220 sampling points have been allocated to the three different batches. To obtain an integer solution, the Cox-algorithm for controlled rounding has been used. Afterwards, sample points have been drawn separately per batch, following a probability proportional to size (PPS) random sample. Second, for each cluster the same number of residential addresses is randomly sampled from the municipal registries (self-weighted sample of individuals). The 28,125 addresses drawn per municipality are then randomly allocated to the four study arms A1, A2, B1, and B2 in the ratio 5 to 2.5 to 14 to 7 based on the expected response rates in each arm and the sensitivity and specificity of the pre-screening tool as applied in strategy B1 and B2. Based on the assumptions, this allocation should yield 2500 saliva samples in each strategy. Although a municipality can be sampled by multiple batches and the overall number of addresses per municipality might vary, the number of addresses contacted in each arm is kept constant. BLINDING (MASKING): The design is single-blinded, meaning the staff conducting the SARS-CoV-2 tests are unaware of the study arm assignment of each single participant and test sample. SAMPLE SIZES: Total sample size for the trial is 10,000 saliva samples equally allocated to the four study arms (i.e. 2,500 participants per arm). For the qualitative component, up to 60 in-depth interviews will be conducted with about 30 study participants (up to 15 in each arm A and B) and 30 participation refusers (up to 15 in each arm A and B) purposefully selected from the quantitative study sample to represent a variety of gender and ages to explore experiences with admission or rejection of study participation. Up to 25 asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive study participants will be purposefully selected to explore the way in which asymptomatic men and women diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 give meaning to their diagnosis and to the dialectic between feeling concurrently healthy and yet also being at risk for transmitting COVID-19. In addition, 100 randomly selected study participants will be included to explore participants' perspective on testing processes and implementation. TRIAL STATUS: Final protocol version is "Surveillance_Studienprotokoll_03Nov2020_v1_2" from November 3, 2020. Recruitment started November 18, 2020 and is expected to end by or before December 31, 2020. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial is currently being registered with the German Clinical Trials Register (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien), DRKS00023271 ( https://www.drks.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial . HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00023271). Retrospectively registered 30 November 2020. FULL PROTOCOL: The full protocol is attached as an additional file, accessible from the Trials website (Additional file 1). In the interest in expediting dissemination of this material, the familiar formatting has been eliminated; this Letter serves as a summary of the key elements of the full protocol.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/economics , Health Care Costs , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/economics , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/economics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Saliva/virology , Surveys and Questionnaires/economics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Male , Population Surveillance , Predictive Value of Tests , Prevalence , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Reproducibility of Results , Single-Blind Method
9.
Virus Res ; 305: 198575, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433886

ABSTRACT

Saliva is an appropriate specimen for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnosis. The possibility of pooling samples of saliva, using non-invasive bibula strips for sampling, was explored employing Bovine coronavirus (BCoV) spiked saliva. In laboratory, up to 30 saliva-soaked strips were pooled in a single tube with 2 mL of medium. After quick adsorption with the medium and vortexing, the liquid was collected and tested with a quantitative molecular assay to quantify viral RNA genome copies. On testing of single and pooled strips, the difference between the median threshold cycles (Ct) value of test performed on the single positive saliva sample and the median Ct value obtained on the pool of 30 strips, was 3.21 cycles. Saliva pooling with bibula strips could allow monitoring of COVID-19 on a large scale, reducing costs for the health bodies in terms of medical material and skilled personnel. Finally, saliva sampling is noninvasive and less traumatic than nasopharyngeal swabs and can be self-collected.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Coronavirus, Bovine/genetics , Genome, Viral , RNA, Viral/genetics , Specimen Handling/methods , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Humans , Limit of Detection , Reagent Strips/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Saliva/virology
10.
J Mol Diagn ; 23(10): 1207-1217, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1428187

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response necessitated innovations and a series of regulatory deviations that also affected laboratory-developed tests (LDTs). To examine real-world consequences and specify regulatory paradigm shifts, legislative proposals were aligned on a common timeline with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of LDTs and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-orchestrated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) labeling update study. The initial EUA adoption by LDT developers shows that the FDA can have oversight over LDTs. We used efficiency-corrected microcosting of our EUA PCR assay to estimate the national cost of the labeling update study to $0.3 to $1.4 million US dollars. Labeling update study performance data showed lower average detection limits in commercial in vitro diagnostic (IVD) assays versus LDTs (32,000 ± 75,000 versus 71,000 ± 147,000 nucleic acid amplification tests/mL; P = 0.04); however, comparison also shows that FDA review of IVD assays and LDTs did not prevent differences between initial and labeling update performance (IVD assay, P < 0.0001; LDT, P = 0.003). The regulatory shifts re-emphasized that both commercial tests and LDTs rely heavily on laboratory competence and procedures; however, lack of performance data on authorized tests, when clinically implemented, precludes assessment of the benefit related to regulatory review. Temporary regulatory deviations during the pandemic and regulatory science tools (ie, reference material) have generated valuable real-world evidence to inform pending legislation regarding LDT regulation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , United States Food and Drug Administration/legislation & jurisprudence , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Humans , Laboratories/statistics & numerical data , Limit of Detection , Polymerase Chain Reaction/economics , Time Factors , United States
12.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 17793, 2021 09 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1397895

ABSTRACT

The rapid identification and isolation of infected individuals remains a key strategy for controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Frequent testing of populations to detect infection early in asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals can be a powerful tool for intercepting transmission, especially when the viral prevalence is low. However, RT-PCR testing-the gold standard of SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis-is expensive, making regular testing of every individual unfeasible. Sample pooling is one approach to lowering costs. By combining samples and testing them in groups the number of tests required is reduced, substantially lowering costs. Here we report on the implementation of pooling strategies using 3-d and 4-d hypercubes to test a professional sports team in South Africa. We have shown that infected samples can be reliably detected in groups of 27 and 81, with minimal loss of assay sensitivity for samples with individual Ct values of up to 32. We report on the automation of sample pooling, using a liquid-handling robot and an automated web interface to identify positive samples. We conclude that hypercube pooling allows for the reliable RT-PCR detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection, at significantly lower costs than lateral flow antigen (LFA) tests.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , High-Throughput Screening Assays/methods , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Specimen Handling/methods , Antigens, Viral/isolation & purification , Athletes , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Serological Testing/economics , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , Cost Savings , High-Throughput Screening Assays/economics , Humans , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sensitivity and Specificity , South Africa , Specimen Handling/economics , Sports Medicine/economics , Sports Medicine/methods
13.
J Mol Diagn ; 23(8): 920-928, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1386075

ABSTRACT

The Alinity m (Abbott Molecular, Des Plaines, IL) automated molecular analyzer allows continuous loading of samples and sample-to-result molecular detection of several microorganisms. The detection of SARS-CoV-2 by the Alinity m was compared with that of the cobas 6800 (Roche Molecular Systems, Branchburg, NJ; standard comparator) in a manufacturer-independent clinical evaluation on 2157 consecutive nasopharyngeal swab samples. Valid initial results on Alinity m and cobas 6800 were obtained from 2129 (98.7%) and 2157 (100%) samples, respectively. The overall percent agreement (95% CI) was 98.3% (2092/2129 [97.6%-98.7%]); positive percent agreement, 100% (961/961 [99.6%-100%]); negative percent agreement, 96.8% (1131/1168 [95.7%-97.7%]); and high κ value, 0.965 (0.954-0.976). There were 37 discordant results on Alinity m and, based on discordant analyses, including previous and/or follow-up PCR results, 22 could be considered analytically true positive with high probability. Due to a lack of additional information and an inability to perform repeated/further testing, the status of the remaining 15 discordant results remained unresolved. The throughput of the two analyzers was compared using testing on 564 samples in parallel across two 8-hour shifts in clinical practice. The turnaround times were compared using processing of 94 routine samples in parallel on each working day for 5 consecutive days. The two analyzers showed similar performance, with certain differences that have potential importance in some laboratory settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Nasopharynx/virology , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Humans , RNA, Viral/analysis , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
14.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 15176, 2021 07 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1327219

ABSTRACT

There is currently a high level of demand for rapid COVID-19 tests, that can detect the onset of the disease at point of care settings. We have developed an ultra-portable, self-contained, point-of-care nucleic acid amplification test for diagnosis of active COVID-19 infection, based on the principle of loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). The LAMP assay is 100% sensitive and specific to detect a minimum of 300 RNA copies/reaction of SARS-CoV-2. All of the required sample transportation, lysing and amplification steps are performed in a standalone disposable cartridge, which is controlled by a battery operated, pocket size (6x9x4cm3) unit. The test is easy to operate and does not require skilled personnel. The total time from sample to answer is approximately 35 min; a colorimetric readout indicates positive or negative results. This portable diagnostic platform has significant potential for rapid and effective testing in community settings. This will accelerate clinical decision making, in terms of effective triage and timely therapeutic and infection control interventions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/instrumentation , COVID-19/diagnosis , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/instrumentation , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/instrumentation , Point-of-Care Testing , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Equipment Design , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/economics , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/economics , Point-of-Care Testing/economics , RNA, Viral/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Time Factors
15.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4317, 2021 07 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1310803

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed difficulties in scaling current quantitative PCR (qPCR)-based diagnostic methodologies for large-scale infectious disease testing. Bottlenecks include lengthy multi-step processes for nucleic acid extraction followed by qPCR readouts, which require costly instrumentation and infrastructure, as well as reagent and plastic consumable shortages stemming from supply chain constraints. Here we report an Oil Immersed Lossless Total Analysis System (OIL-TAS), which integrates RNA extraction and detection onto a single device that is simple, rapid, cost effective, and requires minimal supplies and infrastructure to perform. We validated the performance of OIL-TAS using contrived SARS-CoV-2 viral particle samples and clinical nasopharyngeal swab samples. OIL-TAS showed a 93% positive predictive agreement (n = 57) and 100% negative predictive agreement (n = 10) with clinical SARS-CoV-2 qPCR assays in testing clinical samples, highlighting its potential to be a faster, cheaper, and easier-to-deploy alternative for infectious disease testing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/instrumentation , Equipment Design , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , Nasopharynx/virology , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity , Time Factors , Virion/genetics , Virion/isolation & purification
16.
Arch Virol ; 166(9): 2551-2561, 2021 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309044

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was to identify and validate a sensitive, high-throughput, and cost-effective SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR assay to be used as a surveillance and diagnostic tool for SARS-CoV-2 in a university surveillance program. We conducted a side-by-side clinical evaluation of a newly developed SARS-CoV-2 multiplex assay (EZ-SARS-CoV-2 Real-Time RT-PCR) with the commercial TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit, which has an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. The EZ-SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR incorporates two assays targeting the SARS-CoV-2 N gene, an internal control targeting the human RNase P gene, and a PCR inhibition control in a single reaction. Nasopharyngeal (NP) and anterior nares (AN) swabs were tested as individuals and pools with both assays and in the ABI 7500 Fast and the QuantStudio 5 detection platforms. The analytical sensitivity of the EZ-SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assay was 250 copies/ml or approximately 1.75 genome copy equivalents per reaction. The clinical performance of the EZ-SARS-CoV-2 assay was evaluated using NP and AN samples tested in other laboratories. The diagnostic sensitivity of the assay ranged between 94 and 96% across the detection platforms, and the diagnostic specificity was 94.06%. The positive predictive value was 94%, and the negative predictive value ranged from 94 to 96%. Pooling five NP or AN specimens yielded 93% diagnostic sensitivity. The overall agreement between these SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assays was high, supported by a Cohen's kappa value of 0.93. The EZ-SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assay performance attributes of high sensitivity and specificity with AN sample matrix and pooled upper respiratory samples support its use in a high-throughput surveillance testing program.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/instrumentation , Epidemiological Monitoring , Gene Expression , Humans , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/economics , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/instrumentation , Nasal Cavity/virology , Nasopharynx/virology , Phosphoproteins/genetics , Reproducibility of Results , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling/methods , Viral Load
17.
Commun Biol ; 4(1): 686, 2021 06 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1260959

ABSTRACT

In January 2020, the coronavirus disease was declared, by the World Health Organization as a global public health emergency. Recommendations from the WHO COVID Emergency Committee continue to support strengthening COVID surveillance systems, including timely access to effective diagnostics. Questions were raised about the validity of considering the RT-PCR as the gold standard in COVID-19 diagnosis. It has been suggested that a variety of methods should be used to evaluate advocated tests. Dogs had been successfully trained and employed to detect diseases in humans. Here we show that upon training explosives detection dogs on sniffing COVID-19 odor in patients' sweat, those dogs were able to successfully screen out 3249 individuals who tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2, from a cohort of 3290 individuals. Additionally, using Bayesian analysis, the sensitivity of the K9 test was found to be superior to the RT-PCR test performed on nasal swabs from a cohort of 3134 persons. Given its high sensitivity, short turn-around-time, low cost, less invasiveness, and ease of application, the detection dogs test lends itself as a better alternative to the RT-PCR in screening for SARS-CoV-2 in asymptomatic individuals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Odorants , Working Dogs , Adult , Aged , Animals , Bayes Theorem , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19 Testing/economics , Dogs , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Odorants/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Smell , Young Adult
18.
Curr Protoc ; 1(5): e145, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1231849

ABSTRACT

Since December 2019, SARS-CoV-2 has spread extensively throughout the world, with more than 117 million reported cases and 2.6 million deaths (Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html). Detecting the virus is the first step in diagnosing the infection, followed by quarantine to prevent transmission. Nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swabs (NP/OP) and saliva are two specimen types that are most often analyzed to detect SARS-CoV-2 by molecular tests that detect viral RNA or by antigen/antibody tests that detect viral proteins and/or the host immune response against the virus. Compared to antigen/antibody tests, molecular tests are highly sensitive and specific for detecting the virus. A significant drawback is that specimen collection requirements are specific to each test and cannot be interchanged with another test. Some tests are qualified to be used on NP swabs or saliva, but not both specimen types. Even with NP swabs, a test may be qualified to detect the virus only with swabs collected in viral transport medium (VTM) but not in other media. These restrictive pre-analytic steps are disadvantageous in that a lab would have to develop and validate different tests for SARS-CoV-2 depending on the specimen type and collection media, with added setup cost, infrastructure, and training requirements. To overcome these problems, we developed and validated a cost-effective multiplex reverse-transcription real-time PCR assay that can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 in different specimen types. The assay is highly sensitive and specific, can be used to detect the virus in saliva as well as NP swabs collected in different media such as VTM, saline, and commercial preservative fluid, and serves as one test for all applications. The protocol also describes an optimal laboratory setup and unidirectional workflow for detecting SARS-CoV-2 by RT-qPCR. © 2021 The Authors. Current Protocols published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Manual viral nucleic acid extraction from NP/OP swabs collected in different media, and from saliva Alternate Protocol 1: Low-throughput automated extraction on the Qiagen EZ1 Advanced XL machine (1-14 samples) Alternate Protocol 2: High-throughput automated extraction on the Kingfisher Flex machine (1-96 samples) Basic Protocol 2: Multiplex RT-qPCR protocol to detect SARS-CoV-2 Alternate Protocol 3: Multiplex one-step RT-qPCR protocol to detect SARS-CoV-2 with S and E gene probes labeled with the same fluorochrome.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Nasopharynx/virology , Oropharynx/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Saliva/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Humans , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/economics , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification
19.
J Med Virol ; 93(9): 5396-5404, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1209673

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Pooled testing is a potentially efficient alternative strategy for COVID-19 testing in congregate settings. We evaluated the utility and cost-savings of pooled testing based on imperfect test performance and potential dilution effect due to pooling and created a practical calculator for online use. METHODS: We developed a 2-stage pooled testing model accounting for dilution. The model was applied to hypothetical scenarios of 100 specimens collected during a one-week time-horizon cycle for varying levels of COVID-19 prevalence and test sensitivity and specificity, and to 338 skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in Los Angeles County (Los Angeles) (data collected and analyzed in 2020). RESULTS: Optimal pool sizes ranged from 1 to 12 in instances where there is a least one case in the batch of specimens. 40% of Los Angeles SNFs had more than one case triggering a response-testing strategy. The median number (minimum; maximum) of tests performed per facility were 56 (14; 356) for a pool size of 4, 64 (13; 429) for a pool size of 10, and 52 (11; 352) for an optimal pool size strategy among response-testing facilities. The median costs of tests in response-testing facilities were $8250 ($1100; $46,100), $6000 ($1340; $37,700), $6820 ($1260; $43,540), and $5960 ($1100; $37,380) when adopting individual testing, a pooled testing strategy using pool sizes of 4, 10, and optimal pool size, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Pooled testing is an efficient strategy for congregate settings with a low prevalence of COVID-19. Dilution as a result of pooling can lead to erroneous false-negative results.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Models, Statistical , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Specimen Handling/methods , COVID-19/economics , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , California/epidemiology , False Negative Reactions , Humans , Nasopharynx/virology , Prevalence , Sensitivity and Specificity , Skilled Nursing Facilities , Specimen Handling/economics
20.
J Med Virol ; 93(5): 2962-2970, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1206825

ABSTRACT

Tracing the globally circulating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) phylogenetic clades by high-throughput sequencing is costly, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. We here propose a rapid, simple, and cost-effective amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS)-based multiplex reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to identify six distinct phylogenetic clades: S, L, V, G, GH, and GR. Our multiplex PCR is designed in a mutually exclusive way to identify V-S and G-GH-GR clade variants separately. The pentaplex assay included all five variants and the quadruplex comprised of the triplex variants alongside either V or S clade mutations that created two separate subsets. The procedure was optimized with 0.2-0.6 µM primer concentration, 56-60°C annealing temperature, and 3-5 ng/µl complementary DNA to validate on 24 COVID-19-positive samples. Targeted Sanger sequencing further confirmed the presence of the clade-featured mutations with another set of primers. This multiplex ARMS-PCR assay is a fast, low-cost alternative and convenient to discriminate the circulating phylogenetic clades of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Genotype , Humans , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction , Mutation , Phylogeny , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/classification
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