Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 detection in Saliva by real-time RT-PCR and RT-PCR/MALDI-TOF Methods
Matthew M. Hernandez,
Pui Yiu Lee,
Juan David Ramírez,
Melissa R. Gitman,
Michael D. Nowak,
David L Reich,
Emilia M. Sordillo,
Alberto E. Paniz Mondolfi
Posted 12 Mar 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.11.21253234
Posted 12 Mar 2021
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the need for rapid implementation of diagnostic assays for detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in respiratory specimens. While multiple molecular methods utilize nasopharyngeal specimens, supply chain constraints and need for easier and safer specimen collection warrant alternative specimen types, particularly saliva. Although saliva has been found to be a comparable clinical matrix for detection of SARS-CoV-2, evaluations of diagnostic and analytic performance across platforms for this specimen type are limited. Here, we compared two methods for SARS-CoV-2 detection in saliva: the Roche cobas(R) 6800/8800 SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR Test and the Agena Biosciences MassARRAY(R) SARS-CoV-2 Panel/MassARRAY(R) System. Overall, both systems had high agreement with one another, and both demonstrated high diagnostic sensitivity and specificity when compared to matched patient upper respiratory specimens. We also evaluated the analytical sensitivity of each platform and determined the limit of detection of the Roche assay was four times lower than that of Agena for saliva specimens (390.6 v. 1,562.5 copies/mL). Furthermore, across individual target components of each assay, T2 and N2 targets had the lowest limits of detection for each platform, respectively. Together, we demonstrate that saliva represents an appropriate specimen for SARS-CoV-2 detection in two technologies that have high agreement and differ in analytical sensitivities overall and across individual component targets. The addition of saliva as an acceptable specimen and understanding the sensitivity for testing on these platforms can further inform public health measures for screening and detection to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
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