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Clinical performance characteristics of the Swift Normalase Amplicon Panel for sensitive recovery of SARS-CoV-2 genomes

By Lasata Shrestha, Michelle J. Lin, Hong Xie, Margaret G Mills, Shah A.M. Bakhash, Vinod P. Gaur, Robert J Livingston, Jared Castor, Emily A Bruce, Jason W Botten, Meei-Li Huang, Keith R Jerome, Alexander L. Greninger, Pavitra Roychoudhury

Posted 26 Oct 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.22.21265255

Amplicon-based sequencing methods have been central in characterizing the diversity, transmission and evolution of SARS-CoV-2, but need to be rigorously assessed for clinical utility. Here, we validated the Swift Biosciences SARS-CoV-2 Swift Normalase Amplicon Panels using remnant clinical specimens. High quality genomes meeting our established library and sequence quality criteria were recovered from positive specimens with a 95% limit of detection of 40.08 SARS-CoV-2 copies/PCR reaction. Breadth of genome recovery was evaluated across a range of Ct values (11.3 - 36.7, median 21.6). Out of 428 positive samples, 406 (94.9%) generated genomes with < 10% Ns, with a mean genome coverage of 13,545X/SD 8,382X. No genomes were recovered from PCR-negative specimens (n = 30), or from specimens positive for non-SARS-CoV-2 respiratory viruses (n = 20). Compared to whole-genome shotgun metagenomic sequencing (n = 14) or Sanger sequencing for the spike gene (n = 11), pairwise identity between consensus sequences was 100% in all cases, with highly concordant allele frequencies (R2 = 0.99) between Swift and shotgun libraries. When samples from different clades were mixed at varying ratios, expected variants were detected even in 1:99 mixtures. When deployed as a clinical test, 268 tests were performed in the first 23 weeks with a median turnaround time of 11 days, ordered primarily for outbreak investigations and infection control.

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