3-way combo test could detect COVID-19 variants

2020 06 15 18 14 5259 Swab Sample Collection 400

A new type of COVID-19 testing strategy could help streamline the process of identifying cases, tracking variants, and detecting co-infecting viruses, according to a study by researchers at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.

The test involves the use of a portable briefcase-sized minilaboratory and takes advantage of recombinase polymerase amplification and next-generation portable sequencing. The test, named Nirvana by its developers, could provide point-of-care tracking of COVID-19 and the emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

The KAUST team validated the test using nose and throat swabs from people suspected of having SARS-CoV-2 infections in hospitals in Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. They also tested wastewater samples collected from municipal sewage at KAUST to show how the method could allow for population-level surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses.

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