Epidemiologic surveillance of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants is essential to assess impact on clinical outcomes and vaccine efficacy. Whole genome sequencing (WGS), the gold-standard to identify variants, requires significant infrastructure and expertise. We developed a digital droplet polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) assay that can rapidly identify circulating variants of concern/interest (VOC/VOI) using variant-specific mutation combinations in the Spike gene. To validate the assay, 800 saliva samples known to be SARS-CoV-2 positive by RT-PCR were used. During the study (July 2020-March 2022) the assay was easily adaptable to identify not only existing circulating VAC/VOI, but all new variants as they evolved. The assay can discriminate nine variants (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Eta, Epsilon, Lambda, Mu, and Omicron) and sub-lineages (Delta 417N, Omicron BA.1, BA.2). Sequence analyses confirmed variant type for 124/124 samples tested. This ddPCR assay is an inexpensive, sensitive, high-throughput assay that can easily be adapted as new variants are identified.

Fuente: Scientific Reports

Published: 10 May 2023