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An effective point-of-care screening pathway for COVID-19

7 months
Approved budget:
Associate Professor Jo-Ann Stanton
Professor Miguel Quinones-Mateu
Dr James Ussher
Dr Jemma Geoghegan
Dr Anna Rolleston
Health issue:
Infectious disease
Proposal type:
Joint Research Partnership Project
Lay summary
We will develop a test and workflow in partnership with rural Māori communities and primary care providers to screen patient samples for COVID-19 at the point-of-care (e.g. doctors clinic, airports). If robust, this is a front-line triage tool. The work focuses on RNA extraction from swabs followed by qPCR and/or direct RNA sequencing to detect viral presence. Our approach uses Oxford Nanopore Sequencing and the PDQeX, a nucleic acid extraction technology; both are compatible with point-of-care settings. Data will be compared to a curated database and will be available for downstream phylogenetics analysis to understand COVID-19 transmission in New Zealand. We will build a bioinformatics pipeline to pass front-line data to colleagues in the Webster Centre, University of Otago. Our findings and innovations will be disseminated broadly. This work can start immediately. Team members developed the PDQeX and demonstrated proof-of-concept for virus detection under extreme environments.