COVID-19 ECHO Session #25: Considerations of Pooling Specimens for Testing by Real-Time RT-PCR

October 8, 2020

On 5 November, 2020 this COVID-19 ECHO session was convened to discuss considerations of pooling specimens for testing by real-time RT-PCR. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) detection, also known as COVID-19 diagnosis, is performed using a molecular technique referred to as real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). This has remained the method of choice due to its sensitivity and specificity. This method requires high skilled expertise and utilizes high throughput equipment to identify the antigenic proteins responsible for COVID-19 infection. This technique is expensive to carry out and requires several hours of performance to get the results. Since this technique is the gold standard for COVID-19 diagnosis, many African countries face challenges of inadequate infrastructure to deal with the demand for testing. There have also been global shortages of testing products due to worldwide demands and competition between countries to acquire the testing products. Pooling, which means combining respiratory samples from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2 have become an attractive proposition to address some challenges of limited funding resources for testing. In this session, ASLM provides a platform to discuss considerations for pooling specimens for testing by real-time RT-PCR. In this session, Dr Sikulile Moyo, Laboratory Director at the Botswana Harvard Institute Partnership for HIV Reference Laboratory, and Professor Joel Djoba Siawaya, Head of Laboratory Services for the Mother and Child University Hospital Eboli Foundation in Gabon, share the experiences, consideration, strategies for pooling, and challenges and recommendations for pooling. Ghana, Uganda, and Ethiopia also share their country experiences. Please follow the links posted here to view the recorded video session on ASLM’s YouTube channel, and download the presentations made during the session.