Objectives: In this study, five SARS-CoV-2 PCR assay panels were evaluated against the accumulated genetic variability of the virus to assess the effect on sensitivity of the individual assays.
Design or methods: As of week 21, 2020, the complete set of available SARS-CoV-2 genomes from GISAID and GenBank databases were used in this study. SARS-CoV-2 primer sequences from publicly available panels (WHO, CDC, NMDC, and HKU) and QIAstat-Dx were included in the alignment, and accumulated genetic variability affecting any oligonucleotide annealing was annotated.
Results: A total of 11,627 (34.38%) genomes included single mutations affecting annealing of any PCR assay. Variations in 8,773 (25.94%) genomes were considered as high risk, whereas additional 2,854 (8.43%) genomes presented low frequent single mutations and were predicted to yield no impact on sensitivity. In case of the QIAstat-Dx SARS-CoV-2 Panel, 99.11% of the genomes matched with a 100% coverage all oligonucleotides, and critical variations were tested in vitro corroborating no loss of sensitivity.
Conclusions: This analysis stresses the importance of targeting more than one region in the viral genome for SARS-CoV-2 detection to mitigate the risk of loss of sensitivity due to the unknown mutation rate during this SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.
Keywords: Genomic variants; RT-PCR performance; SARS-CoV-2; Sensitivity.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.