Critical to facilitating SARS-CoV-2 point-of-care (POC) testing is assurance that viruses present in specimens are inactivated onsite prior to processing. Here, we conducted experiments to determine the virucidal activity of commercially available Viral Transport Mediums (VTMs) to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. Independent testing methods for viral inactivation testing were applied, including a previously described World Health Organization (WHO) protocol, in addition to a buffer exchange method where the virus is physically separated from the VTM post exposure. The latter method enables sensitive detection of viral viability at higher viral titre when incubated with VTM. We demonstrate that VTM formulations, Primestore® Molecular Transport Medium (MTM) and COPAN eNAT™ completely inactivate high-titre SARS-CoV-2 virus (>1 × 107 copies/mL) and are compatible with POC processing. Furthermore, full viral inactivation was rapidly achieved in as little as 2 min of VTM exposure. We conclude that adding certain VTM formulations as a first step post specimen collection will render SARS-CoV-2 non-infectious for transport, or for further in-field POC molecular testing using rapid turnaround GeneXpert platforms or equivalent.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; diagnostic; inactivation; virucidal.