Resilient SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics workflows including viral heat inactivation

Maria Jose Lista, Pedro M Matos, Thomas J A Maguire, Kate Poulton, Elena Ortiz-Zapater, Robert Page, Helin Sertkaya, Ana M Ortega-Prieto, Aoife M O'Byrne, Clement Bouton, Ruth E Dickenson, Mattia Ficarelli, Jose M Jimenez-Guardeño, Mark Howard, Gilberto Betancor, Rui Pedro Galao, Suzanne Pickering, Adrian W Signell, Harry Wilson, Penelope CliffMark Tan Kia Ik, Amita Patel, Eithne MacMahon, Emma Cunningham, Katie Doores, Monica Agromayor, Juan Martin-Serrano, Esperanza Perucha, Hannah E Mischo, Manu Shankar-Hari, Rahul Batra, Jonathan Edgeworth, Mark Zuckerman, Michael H Malim, Stuart Neil, Rocio Teresa Martinez-Nunez

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


There is a worldwide need for reagents to perform SARS-CoV-2 detection. Some laboratories have implemented kit-free protocols, but many others do not have the capacity to develop these and/or perform manual processing. We provide multiple workflows for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid detection in clinical samples by comparing several commercially available RNA extraction methods: QIAamp Viral RNA Mini Kit (QIAgen), RNAdvance Blood/Viral (Beckman) and Mag-Bind Viral DNA/RNA 96 Kit (Omega Bio-tek). We also compared One-step RT-qPCR reagents: TaqMan Fast Virus 1-Step Master Mix (FastVirus, ThermoFisher Scientific), qPCRBIO Probe 1-Step Go Lo-ROX (PCR Biosystems) and Luna ® Universal Probe One-Step RT-qPCR Kit (Luna, NEB). We used primer-probes that detect viral N (EUA CDC) and RdRP (PHE guidelines). All RNA extraction methods provided similar results. FastVirus and Luna proved most sensitive. N detection was more reliable than that of RdRP, particularly in samples with low viral titres. Importantly, we demonstrate that treatment of nasopharyngeal swabs with 70 degrees for 10 or 30 min, or 90 degrees for 10 or 30 min (both original variant and B 1.1.7) inactivates SARS-CoV-2 employing plaque assays, and that it has minimal impact on the sensitivity of the qPCR in clinical samples. These findings make SARS-CoV-2 testing portable to settings that do not have CL-3 facilities. In summary, we provide several testing pipelines that can be easily implemented in other laboratories and have made all our protocols and SOPs freely available at .

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2021

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


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