Saline-Direct, Infectivity and Length of Quarantine

Pillar 1
Pathogen evolution and escape

Need

Current PCR tests are cumbersome, slow and uncomfortable. Improving scalability, cost, and sensitivity of tests are essential for widespread testing to be an effective pandemic surveillance strategy.

Proposed Solution

CGAPS scientists have developed a novel platform for upper respiratory tract sample collection from putative or known COVID-19 patients, called “Saline-Direct.” Unlike the current testing “gold standard” for SARS-CoV-2,  Saline-Direct relies on a subject to use a small volume of saline to swish and gargle the solution for 45 seconds before depositing it into a purpose-built funnel tube, which then enters a highly automated downstream testing without expensive and time-consuming viral RNA extraction, going directly to real-time (quantitative) PCR identification of the virus.

Statement of Work

Saline-Direct samples will be used to isolate live SARS-CoV-2 virus cultures and reveal neutralizing antibody responses un the upper airway. By employing the Saline-Direct sample collection and testing method with UArizona SARS-CoV-2-positive students in isolation dormitories, we will be able to tell how long they are infectious, and therefore could advise on the length of quarantine to advance key public health imperatives. It also will allow us to isolate and test new virus variants that are circulating in the community, providing rapid diagnosis of large panel of complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences for genomic epidemiology and virus escape/new pandemic assessment.