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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-23

Optimal size of sample pooling for RNA pool testing: An avant-garde for scaling up severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 testing

1 Department of Clinical Virology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Hospital Administration, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Hepatology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ekta Gupta
Department of Clinical Virology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi - 110 070
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmm.IJMM_20_260

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Background and Objectives: Timely diagnosis is essential for the containment of the disease and breaks in the chain of transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). The present situation demands the countries to scale up their testing and design innovative strategies to conserve diagnostic kits and reagents. The pooling of samples saves time, workforce and most importantly diagnostic kits and reagents. In the present study, we tried to define the pool size that could be applied with acceptable confidence for testing. Materials and Methods: We used repeatedly tested positive clinical sample elutes having different levels of SARS CoV 2 RNA and negative sample elutes to prepare seven series of 11 pools each, having pool sizes ranging from 2 to 48 samples to estimate the optimal pool size. Each pool had one positive sample elute in different compositions. All the pools were tested by SARS CoV 2 reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Results: Out of the 77 pools, only 53 (68.8%) were found positive. The sensitivity of pools of 2–48 samples was decreased from 100% (95% confidence interval [CL]; 98.4–100) to 41.41% (95% CL; 34.9–48.1). The maximum size of the pool with acceptable sensitivity (>95%) was found to be of six samples. For the pool size of six samples, the sensitivity was 97.8% and the efficiency of pooling was 0.38. Conclusions: The pooling of samples is a practical way for scaling up testing and ultimately containing the further spread of the CoV disease 2019 pandemic.


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2004 - Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow

Online since April 2001, new site since 1st August '04