Modular approach allows fast COVID-19 test implementation

As the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, clinical labs are coming under intense pressure to deliver patient test results in increased volume.

With speed of results essential, investing significant time in developing new test methodologies, training operational teams and setting up new sample preparation protocols is far from ideal.

Laboratories already equipped with the HIV / Hepatitis B (HBV) Charge Virale assay from Biocentric, normally used to quantify viral load in patient samples, can switch their operation directly to COVID-19 testing. The test for COVID-19 follows the same protocols as the HIV/HBV viral load test and can be easily switched to be up and running within a day, with no need for additional training or workflow changes and validation.

The risk of secondary infection

People living with HIV who have a compromised immune system, including those with a low CD4 count or high viral load, may be less able to deal with coronavirus, and are more vulnerable to respiratory infection. Furthermore, anyone with coronavirus is at greater risk of secondary infection as the body’s immune system is fighting the primary disease.

Clinical laboratories risk being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of samples for testing. Bottlenecks in the lab can risk lives through delaying diagnosis, preventing patients starting the right course of treatment for their identified condition, and resulting in lengthier hospital stays. Those labs able to implement a familiar process, however, can perform some 200 tests per day.

Rapid implementation

Speed of implementation is supported through the single sample preparation protocol for HIV/Hepatitis B and coronavirus specimens – with no need to set up a new laboratory workflow, or to train personnel in a new process. DNA extraction is automated using the GenoXtract® instrument.

For all specimens, sample preparation is a simple two-step process of extraction and amplification (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: single extraction protocol of all types of specimen

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