Pooling of Nasopharyngeal Swab Samples to Overcome a Global Shortage of Real-Time Reverse Transcription-PCR COVID-19 Test Kits

Sunil More, Sai Narayanan, Girish Patil, Parna Ghosh, Samuel Pushparaj, Emily Cooper, Jerry Ritchey, Vinay K. Cheruvu, Anil Kaul, Akhilesh Ramachandran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The global outbreak and rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have created an urgent need for large-scale testing of populations. There is a demand for high-throughput testing protocols that can be used for efficient and rapid testing of clinical specimens. We evaluated a pooled PCR protocol for testing nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs using known positive/negative and untested clinical samples that were assigned to pools of 5 or 10. In total, 630 samples were used in this study. Individual positive samples with cycle threshold (CT) values as high as 33 could be consistently detected when pooled with 4 negative samples (pool of 5), and individual positive samples with CT values up to 31 could be consistently detected when pooled with 9 negative samples (pool of 10). Pooling of up to 5 samples can be employed in laboratories for the diagnosis of COVID-19 for efficient utilization of resources, rapid screening of a greater number of people, and faster reporting of test results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01295-20
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Volume59
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 diagnosis
  • PCR
  • Pooled PCR
  • SARS-CoV-2

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