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Hitting the diagnostic sweet spot: Point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 salivary antigen testing with an off-the-shelf glucometer

  • Author(s): Singh, Naveen;
  • Ray, Partha;
  • Carlin, Aaron;
  • Magallanes, Celestine;
  • Morgan, Sydney;
  • Laurent, Louise;
  • Aronoff-Spencer, Eliah;
  • A. Hall, Drew
  • et al.
Abstract

Significant barriers to the diagnosis of latent and acute SARS-CoV-2 infection continue to hamper population-based screening efforts required to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the absence of effective antiviral therapeutics or vaccines. We report an aptamer-based SARS-CoV-2 salivary antigen assay employing only low-cost reagents ($3.20/test) and an off-the-shelf glucometer. The test was engineered around a glucometer as it is quantitative, easy to use, and the most prevalent piece of diagnostic equipment globally making the test highly scalable with an infrastructure that is already in place. Furthermore, many glucometers connect to smartphones providing an opportunity to integrate with contract tracing apps, medical providers, and electronic medical records. In clinical testing, the developed assay detected SARS-CoV-2 infection in patient saliva across a range of viral loads - as benchmarked by RT-qPCR - within one hour, with 100% sensitivity (positive percent agreement) and distinguished infected specimens from off-target antigens in uninfected controls with 100% specificity (negative percent agreement). We propose that this approach can provide an inexpensive, rapid, and accurate diagnostic for distributed screening of SARS-CoV-2 infection at scale.

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