There is an ongoing worldwide coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). At present, confirmatory diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), typically taking several hours and requiring a molecular laboratory to perform. There is an urgent need for rapid, simplified, and cost-effective detection methods. We have developed and analytically validated a protocol for direct rapid extraction-free PCR (DIRECT-PCR) detection of SARS-CoV-2 without the need for nucleic acid purification. As few as six RNA copies per reaction of viral nucleocapsid (N) gene from respiratory samples such as sputum and nasal exudate can be detected directly using our one-step inhibitor-resistant assay. The performance of this assay was validated on a commercially available portable PCR thermocycler. Viral lysis, reverse transcription, amplification, and detection are achieved in a single-tube homogeneous reaction within 36 min. This minimizes hands-on time, reduces turnaround-time for sample-to-result, and obviates the need for RNA purification reagents. It could enable wider use of Covid-19 testing for diagnosis, screening, and research in countries and regions where laboratory capabilities are limiting.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited