Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 153  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 227-232

Feasibility, efficiency & effectiveness of pooled sample testing strategy (pooled NAAT) for molecular testing of COVID-19

1 Department of Microbiology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Consultant, WHO Country Office for India, New Delhi, India
3 Division of Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, India
4 King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amita Jain
Department of Microbiology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow 226 003, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_2333_20

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Background & objectives: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of clinical samples were tested by real-time PCR. Pooling the clinical samples before testing can be a good cost-saving and rapid alternative for screening large populations. The aim of this study was to compare the performance characteristics, feasibility and effectiveness of pooling nasal swab and throat swab samples for screening and diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. Methods: The pool testing was applied on a set of samples coming from low COVID-19 positivity areas. A total of 2410 samples were tested in pools of five samples each. A total of five pools of five samples each were generated and tested for E gene. Results: Of the total of 482 pools (2410 samples) 24 pools flagged positive. Later on pool de-convolution, a total of 26 samples were detected as positive for COVID-19, leading to positivity of about one per cent in the test population. For the diagnosis of individual samples, the pooling strategies resulted in cost savings of 75 per cent (5 samples per pool). Interpretation & conclusions: It was observed that testing samples for COVID-19 by reverse transcription (RT)- PCR after pooling could be a cost-effective method which would save both in manpower and cost especially for resource-poor countries and at a time when test kits were short in supply.

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