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Comparative Performance of SARS-CoV-2 Detection Assays using Seven Different Primer/Probe Sets and One Assay Kit

By Amanda M Casto, Meei-Li Huang, Arun Nalla, Garrett Perchetti, Reigran Sampoleo, Lasata Shretha, Yulun Wei, Haiying Zhu, Alexander L. Greninger, Keith R Jerome

Posted 17 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.13.20035618

More than 100,000 people worldwide are known to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 beginning in December 2019. The virus has now spread to over 93 countries including the United States, with the largest cluster of US cases to date in the Seattle metropolitan area in Washington. Given the rapid increase in the number of local cases, the availability of accurate, high-throughput SARS-CoV-2 testing is vital to efforts to manage the current public health crisis. In the course of optimizing SARS-CoV-2 testing performed by the University of Washington Clinical Virology Lab (UW Virology Lab), we tested assays using seven different primer/probe sets and one assay kit. We found that the most sensitive assays were those the used the E-gene primer/probe set described by Corman et al. (Eurosurveillance 25(3), 2020, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.3.2000045) and the N2 set described by the CDC (Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/rt-pcr-panel-primer-probes.pdf). All assays tested were found to be highly specific for SARS-CoV-2, with no cross-reactivity with other respiratory viruses observed in our analyses regardless of the primer/probe set or kit used. These results will provide invaluable information to other clinical laboratories who are actively developing SARS-CoV-2 testing protocols at a time when increased testing capacity is urgently needed worldwide.

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