A network of researchers from UPV-EHU, Ikerbasque, Achucarro and the Fundación Biofísica Bizkaia, together with researchers from the BioCruces and Bioaraba Institutes, have adjusted a RT-PCR test to detect SARS-CoV 2. It is a reliable and fast test that does not require commercial kits, so it is out of trouble supplying other tests. This could be useful for further diagnostic tests, as recommended by WHO.
PCR is a technique to amplify very small amounts of genetic material, in this case viruses. The RT-PCR variant performs quantitative detection of genetic material, which allows differentiating between contaminated and virus-free.
The completion of the technique began in the first week of confinement and has been carried out at high speed. A team of 55 researchers has worked. The second week was achieved the adaptation of 6 containment laboratories in the Maria Goyri Biotechnology Center of the UPV/EHU in the Leioa-Erandio Area. On 27 March, Osakidetza received from the Basque Biobank the first samples already diagnosed. After 10 days of protocol setting, the detection test has been achieved with 92% sensitivity and 100% specificity. Sensitivity indicates the ability to detect positive cases and specificity the degree of reliability of the test, that is, the degree to which it will result negative to non-infected people.
It is estimated that the screening would cost approximately 15€ and could be performed in a period of less than 4 hours. And testing could be done in laboratories at many other research centers, including hospitals.
In the opinion of the coordinator of the initiative, Ugo Mayor (UPV/EHU), “the development in auzolan of this alternative test highlights the value of research and science, as well as the real impact of both on the welfare of society, with the corresponding institutional support”.