Evaluating the efficiency and economic effect of two specimen pooling strategies for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection - Abstract
The recent emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) led to the ongoing global pandemic and highlighted the need of early diagnosis of emerging infectious diseases. To control the spreading of the disease, rapid diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and large-scale population screening are required. The pooling test is an economical and effective method to improve the detection capacity of medical laboratories and reduce the demands for laboratory resources such as laboratory workers, testing reagents and equipments. This study aimed to provide an efficient method of specimen pooling by assessing the sensitivity of dry pooling and wet pooling strategies for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus. The dry pooling means that a certain number of throat swaps are collected together into a tube with 3 ml viral transport media and mixed, while wet pooling means that throat swap is individually collected into a tube with 3 ml viral transport media and then 200 ul media taken from each sample are mixed together in another tube. The results showed that the deviation of Ct values between dry pooling groups is smaller than that between wet pooling groups. To maintain the sensitivity of detection, for the wet pooling strategy, the number of samples to be pooled is recommended to be 5. Interestingly, 5- or 10-sample dry pooling methods both don’t impact the detection sensitivity. Pooling test for detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection in regions with low Covid-19 incidence rates (? 1%) can dramatically decrease the cost of testing by up to 75%.