A Cold Chain-Independent Specimen Collection and Transport Medium Improves Diagnostic Sensitivity and Minimizes Biosafety Challenges of COVID-19 Molecular Diagnosis

Academic Article


  • Equitable and timely access to COVID-19-related care has emerged as a major challenge, especially in developing and low-income countries. In India, ;65% of the population lives in villages where infrastructural constraints limit the access to molecular diagnostics of COVID-19 infection. Especially, the requirement of a cold chain transport for sustained sample integrity and associated biosafety challenges pose major bottlenecks to the equitable access. Here, we developed an innovative clinical specimen collection medium, named SupraSens microbial transport medium (SSTM). SSTM allowed a cold chain-independent transport at a wide temperature range (15°C to 40°C) and directly inactivated SARS-CoV-2 (<15 min). Evaluation of SSTM compared to commercial viral transport medium (VTM) in field studies (n = 181 patients) highlighted that, for the samples from same patients, SSTM could capture more symptomatic (∼26.67%, 4/15) and asymptomatic (52.63%, 10/19) COVID-19 patients. Compared to VTM, SSTM yielded significantly lower quantitative PCR (qPCR) threshold cycle (CT) values (mean ΔCT . 23.50), thereby improving diagnostic sensitivity of SSTM (18.79% [34/181]) versus that of VTM (11.05% [20/ 181]). Overall, SSTM had detection of COVID-19 patients 70% higher than that of VTM. Since the logistical and infrastructural constraints are not unique to India, our study highlights the invaluable global utility of SSTM as a key to accurately identify those infected and control COVID-19 transmission. Taken together, our data provide a strong justification to the adoption of SSTM for sample collection and transport during the pandemic.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Saini V; Kalra P; Sharma M; Rai C; Saini V; Gautam K; Bhattacharya S; Mani S; Saini K; Kumar S
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 3