(searched for: doi:10.1101/2020.04.11.20061424)
Published: 18 June 2020
Convenient, repeatable, large-scale molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2 would be a key weapon to help control the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, standard SARS-CoV-2 testing protocols are invasive and rely on numerous items that can be subject to supply chain bottlenecks, and as such are not suitable for frequent repeat testing. Specifically, personal protective equipment (PPE), nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs, the associated viral transport media (VTM), and kits for RNA isolation and purification have all been in short supply at various times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 is spread through droplets and aerosols transmitted through person-to-person contact, and thus saliva may be a relevant medium for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 infection status. Here we describe a saliva-based testing method that bypasses the need for RNA isolation/purification. In experiments with inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus spiked into saliva, this method has a limit of detection of 500-1000 viral particles per mL, rivalling the standard NP swab method, and initial studies also show excellent performance with 100 clinical samples. This saliva-based process is operationally simple, utilizes readily available materials, and can be easily implemented by existing testing sites, thus allowing for high-throughput, rapid, and repeat testing of large populations.Graphical Abstract
RNA, Volume 26, pp 771-783; https://doi.org/10.1261/rna.076232.120
The current COVID-19 pandemic presents a serious public health crisis, and a better understanding of the scope and spread of the virus would be aided by more widespread testing. Nucleic-acid-based tests currently offer the most sensitive and early detection of COVID-19. However, the “gold standard” test pioneered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes several hours to complete and requires extensive human labor, materials such as RNA extraction kits that could become in short supply, and relatively scarce qPCR machines. It is clear that a huge effort needs to be made to scale up current COVID-19 testing by orders of magnitude. There is thus a pressing need to evaluate alternative protocols, reagents, and approaches to allow nucleic-acid testing to continue in the face of these potential shortages. There has been a tremendous explosion in the number of papers written within the first weeks of the pandemic evaluating potential advances, comparable reagents, and alternatives to the “gold-standard” CDC RT-PCR test. Here we present a collection of these recent advances in COVID-19 nucleic acid testing, including both peer-reviewed and preprint articles. Due to the rapid developments during this crisis, we have included as many publications as possible, but many of the cited sources have not yet been peer-reviewed, so we urge researchers to further validate results in their own laboratories. We hope that this review can urgently consolidate and disseminate information to aid researchers in designing and implementing optimized COVID-19 testing protocols to increase the availability, accuracy, and speed of widespread COVID-19 testing.