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Pooled Sampling is an Efficient and Economical Strategy for SARS-CoV-2 Detection in Low-Prevalence Areas by Xiang Sun, Li Deng, Xuan Zhan, Xiaojing Chen, Xiaohui Yang, Yingfeng Huang, XinChun Chen, Weidong Zheng

Background: Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a severe acute respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Different pooling testing strategies have been applied for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. However, the discrepancies among different pooling strategies are still to be explored. Methods: The aim of this study was to evaluate the two pooling strategies of collecting respiratory specimens for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Two groups of five-sample pools were prepared to evaluate the impact of sample pooling and pooled sampling on test sensitivity, respectively. Viral RNA of coronavirus was extracted with the automation system. The N and ORF1ab genes of SARS-CoV-2 RNA were detected with real-time reverse-transcription PCR. The turnaround time of SARS-CoV-2 testing was analyzed before and after the implement of pooled sampling.
Results: The pooled sampling displayed advantages in assay sensitivity over the sample pooling. The implementation of pooled sampling significantly shortened the turnaround time of SARS-CoV-2 testing.
Conclusions: The pooled sampling is an efficient and economical strategy for SARS-CoV-2 detection during the periods of high screening demand in low-prevalence areas.

DOI: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2021.210851