Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundAsymptomatic transmission was found to be the Achilles' heel of the symptom-based screening strategy, necessitating the implementation of mass testing to efficiently contain the transmission of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the global shortage of molecular reagents and the low throughput of available realtime PCR facilities were major limiting factors.MethodsA novel semi-nested and heptaplex (7-plex) RT-PCR assay with melting analysis for detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been established for either individual testing or 96-sample pooled testing. The complex melting spectrum collected from the heptaplex RT-PCR amplicons was interpreted with the support of an artificial intelligence algorithm for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. The analytical and clinical performance of the semi-nested RT-PCR assay was evaluated using RNAs synthesized in-vitro and those isolated from nasopharyngeal samples.ResultsThe LOD of the assay for individual testing was estimated to be 7.2 copies/reaction. Clinical performance evaluation indicated a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 97.83-100) and a specificity of 99.87% (95% CI: 99.55-99.98). More importantly, the assay supports a breakthrough sample pooling method, which makes possible parallel screening of up to 96 samples in one real-time PCR well without loss of sensitivity. As a result, up to 8,820 individual pre-amplified samples could be screened for SARS-CoV-2 within each 96-well plate of realtime PCR using the pooled testing procedure.ConclusionThe novel semi-nested RT-PCR assay provides a solution for highly multiplex (7-plex) detection of SARS-CoV-2 and enables 96-sample pooled detection for increase of testing capacity. .

Original publication





Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry

Publication Date





309 - 317


Department of Genomics & Cytogenetics, Institute of Biomedicine and Pharmacy (IBP), Vietnam Military Medical University, Hanoi, Viet Nam.