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We describe the timely adaption of both published WHO E-gene protocol and commercially available LightMix Modular E-gene assay to the test platform (ABI 7900 Fast real-time analyzer and TaqMan Fast One-step Virus Master Mix) available in an accredited tertiary hospital laboratory with an on-going evaluation to ensure the provision of quality service within the time constraint. The LightMix Modular E-gene was slightly more sensitive when compared to the WHO E-gene, both analytically and diagnostically. The assay was recommended for screening of SARS-CoV-2 infection. With the availability of technically competent staff through continuous training, the provision of round-the-clock service is feasible despite the test is of high complexity. The thermal cycling duration of the adapted LightMix E-gene and WHO E-gene is shortened by half and one hour respectively and allows the number of runs to double when 24-h round-the-clock service is provided. An increase in testing capacity could support surges in testing demand, which is essential to control the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, to prevent potential overwhelming of the healthcare system, and to optimize utilization of the isolation beds. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


Yolanda I I Ho, Ann H Wong, Eddie C M Leung, River C W Wong, Raymond W M Lai. Rapid adaptation and continuous performance evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 envelope gene (E-gene) real-time RT-PCR assays to support the hospital surge in test demand. Journal of medical virology. 2021 Mar;93(3):1824-1827

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PMID: 33165945

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