A Rapid COVID-19 RT-PCR Detection Assay for Low Resource Settings
Arumugam, Arunkumar et al.
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Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay is the gold standard recommended to test for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. It has been used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several other companies in their Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) assays. RT-qPCR requires expensive equipment such as RNA isolation instruments and real-time PCR thermal cyclers, which are not available in many low resource settings and developing countries. As a pandemic, COVID-19 has quickly spread to the rest of the world. Many underdeveloped and developing counties do not have the means for fast and accurate COVID-19 detection to control this outbreak. Using COVID-19 positive clinical specimens, we demonstrated that RT-PCR assays can be performed in as little as 12 minutes using untreated samples, heat-inactivated samples, or extracted RNA templates. Rapid RT-PCR was achieved using thin-walled PCR tubes and a setup including sous vide immersion heaters/circulators. Our data suggest that rapid RT-PCR can be implemented for sensitive and specific molecular diagnosis of COVID-19 in situations where sophisticated laboratory instruments are not available.