Performance of the rapid Nucleic Acid Amplification by Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 in nasopharyngeal swabs transported in viral media and dry nasal swabs, in a New York City academic institution

The recent emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has posed formidable challenges for clinical laboratories seeking reliable laboratory diagnostic confirmation. The swift advance of the crisis in the United States has led to Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) facilitating the availability of molecular diagnostic assays without the more rigorous scrutiny to which tests are normally subjected to prior to FDA approval. The need to identify the COVID-19 positive cases quickly and accurately has propelled the release of a variety of assays intended to meet the urgent demand. Several Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT) platforms are currently available. Our laboratory currently uses two real time RT-PCR platforms, the Roche Cobas SARS-CoV2 and the Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2. Both platforms demonstrate comparable performance; however the run times for each assay are 3.5 hours and 45 minutes, respectively. In search for a platform with shorter turnaround time, we sought to evaluate the recently released Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 assay which is capable of producing positive results in as little as 5 minutes. We present here the result comparisons between Abbot ID NOW COVID-19 and Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 using nasopharyngeal swabs transported in VTM as well as dry nasal swabs for the Abbott assay. Regardless of method of collection and sample type, Abbot ID NOW COVID-19 missed a third of the samples detected positive by Cepheid Xpert Xpress when using NP swabs in VTM and over 48% when using dry nasal swabs.

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