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Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21250385


Regular surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals for SARS-CoV-2 has played a vital role in SARS-CoV-2 outbreak prevention on college and university campuses. Here we describe the voluntary saliva testing program instituted at the University of California, Berkeley during an early period of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020. The program was administered as a research study ahead of clinical implementation, enabling us to launch surveillance testing while continuing to optimize the assay. Results of both the testing protocol itself and the study participants experience show how the program succeeded in providing routine, robust testing capable of contributing to outbreak prevention within a campus community and offer strategies for encouraging participation and a sense of civic responsibility.

Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21249151


Saliva is an attractive specimen type for asymptomatic surveillance of COVID-19 in large populations due to its ease of collection and its demonstrated utility for detecting RNA from SARS-CoV-2. Multiple saliva-based viral detection protocols use a direct-to-RT-qPCR approach that eliminates nucleic acid extraction but can reduce viral RNA detection sensitivity. To improve test sensitivity while maintaining speed, we developed a robotic nucleic acid extraction method for detecting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in saliva samples with high throughput. Using this assay, the Free Asymptomatic Saliva Testing (IGI-FAST) research study on the UC Berkeley campus conducted 11,971 tests on supervised self-collected saliva samples and identified rare positive specimens containing SARS-CoV-2 RNA during a time of low infection prevalence. In an attempt to increase testing capacity, we further adapted our robotic extraction assay to process pooled saliva samples. We also benchmarked our assay against the gold standard, nasopharyngeal swab specimens. Finally, we designed and validated a RT-qPCR test suitable for saliva self-collection. These results establish a robotic extraction-based procedure for rapid PCR-based saliva testing that is suitable for samples from both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.

Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20247338


Commonly used RT-qPCR-based SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics require 2-3 separate reactions or rely on detection of a single viral target, adding time and cost or risk of false-negative results. Currently, no test combines detection of widely used SARS-CoV-2 E- and N-gene targets and a sample control in a single, multiplexed reaction. We developed the IGI-LuNER RT-qPCR assay using the Luna Probe Universal One-Step RT-qPCR master mix with publicly available primers and probes to detect SARS-CoV-2 N gene, E gene, and human RNase P (NER). This combined, cost-effective test can be performed in 384-well plates with detection sensitivity suitable for clinical reporting, and will aid in future sample pooling efforts, thus improving throughput of SARS-CoV-2 detection. Graphical Abstract O_FIG O_LINKSMALLFIG WIDTH=200 HEIGHT=79 SRC="FIGDIR/small/20247338v2_ufig1.gif" ALT="Figure 1"> View larger version (27K): org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@74929corg.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@1457971org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@2825ddorg.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@1cde2b6_HPS_FORMAT_FIGEXP M_FIG C_FIG

Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20230870


The high proportion of transmission events derived from asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections make SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent in COVID-19, difficult to control through the traditional non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) of symptom-based isolation and contact tracing. As a consequence, many US universities developed asymptomatic surveillance testing labs, to augment NPIs and control outbreaks on campus throughout the 2020-2021 academic year (AY); several of those labs continue to support asymptomatic surveillance efforts on campus in AY2021-2022. At the height of the pandemic, we built a stochastic branching process model of COVID-19 dynamics at UC Berkeley to advise optimal control strategies in a university environment. Our model combines behavioral interventions in the form of group size limits to deter superspreading, symptom-based isolation, and contact tracing, with asymptomatic surveillance testing. We found that behavioral interventions offer a cost-effective means of epidemic control: group size limits of six or fewer greatly reduce superspreading, and rapid isolation of symptomatic infections can halt rising epidemics, depending on the frequency of asymptomatic transmission in the population. Surveillance testing can overcome uncertainty surrounding asymptomatic infections, with the most effective approaches prioritizing frequent testing with rapid turnaround time to isolation over test sensitivity. Importantly, contact tracing amplifies population-level impacts of all infection isolations, making even delayed interventions effective. Combination of behavior-based NPIs and asymptomatic surveillance also reduces variation in daily case counts to produce more predictable epidemics. Furthermore, targeted, intensive testing of a minority of high transmission risk individuals can effectively control the COVID-19 epidemic for the surrounding population. Even in some highly vaccinated university settings in AY2021-2022, asymptomatic surveillance testing offers an effective means of identifying breakthrough infections, halting onward transmission, and reducing total caseload. We offer this blueprint and easy-to-implement modeling tool to other academic or professional communities navigating optimal return-to-work strategies.

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