Extraction-Free Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA Using LumiraDx's RNA Star Complete Assay from Clinical Nasal Swabs Stored in a Novel Collection and Transport Medium
Background: The rapid detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is vital for patient care. The LumiraDx™ SARS-CoV-2 RNA Star Complete (RSC) is an Emergency Use Authorization-recognized molecular test using nasal/nasopharyngeal swabs immersed in a viral/universal transport medium (VTM/UTM). However, there is a critical need for an alternative medium for point-of-care testing (POCT). This study aimed to investigate Xtract-Free (XF), a novel collection medium for transport and direct (extraction-free) use with nucleic acid tests. Methods: Using serially diluted SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA (vRNA) in a routine UTM and XF, a limit of detection (LOD) was established via an RSC test and a quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR). Additionally, the results obtained from a panel of 108 clinical “car-side” nasal swabs collected in XF during the coronavirus pandemic and assessed using the ”gold-standard” RT-qPCR assay were compared to Lumira’s RSC assay. Results: The average replicate RT-qPCR cycle threshold (CT) values for vRNA in XF and UTM were observed to be equivalent. An LOD for which five out of five replicates were detected using XF or VTM was approximately 2000 copies/mL. The nasal swabs collected in XF exhibited 93.9% positive percent agreement (sensitivity) and 100% negative percent agreement (specificity) compared to the RT-qPCR. Three specimens tested positive via an RT-qPCR were negative when tested via RSC; however, all three samples had CT values ≥ 36.4. Conclusions: XF is equivalent to VTM/UTM and is compatible for use with the RSC test. Furthermore, XF can be used directly with RT-qPCRs and rapid antigen testing without the requirement for separate nucleic acid extraction (an extraction-free process), making it ideal for cost-effective high-throughput and decentralized respiratory testing. Impact Statement: This study is the first to evaluate LumiraDx’s SARS-CoV-2 RNA Star Complete assay in concert with Xtract-Free (XF), a novel collection medium containing a proprietary RNase-inactivating technology for the rapid, ”extraction-free” detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA from clinical nasal swabs. Specimens collected in XF combined with rapid LumiraDx detection provide a safe and sensitive alternative to VTM/UTM, and Molecular Transport medium (MTM) for high throughput, “extraction-free” molecular detection.