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<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The objective of this study was to assess the performance of direct real time RT-PCR detection of SARS-CoV-2 in heated saliva samples, avoiding the RNA isolation step. Oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swabs together with saliva samples were obtained from 51 patients clinically diagnosed as potentially having COVID-19. Two different methods were compared: 1. RNA was extracted from 500 μl of sample using a MagNA Pure Compact Instrument with an elution volume of 50μl and 2. 700µL of saliva were heat-inactivated at 96°C for 15 minutes, and directly subjected to RT-PCR. One step real time RT-PCR was performed using 5 μl of extracted RNA or directly from 5 μl of heated sample. RT-PCR was performed targeting the SARS-CoV-2 envelope (E) gene region. Diagnostic performance was assessed using the results of the RT-PCR from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs as the gold standard. The overall sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were 81.08%, 92.86%, 96.77% and 65.00%, respectively when RNA extraction was included in the protocol with saliva, whereas sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were 83.78%, 92.86%, 68.42% and 96.88%, respectively, for the heat-inactivation protocol. However, when the analysis was performed exclusively on saliva samples with a limited time from the onset of symptoms (&lt;9 days, N=28), these values were 90%, 87.5%, 44% and 98.75% for the heat-inactivation protocol. The study showed that RT-PCR can be performed using saliva in an RNA extraction free protocol, showing good sensitivity and specificity.</jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Publication Date