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Development of sensitive and quantitative molecular technologies for SARS-CoV-2 detection
COVID-19 Research Area(s): Diagnostics, Genomics & Transmission Dynamics, Epidemiology & Public Health, Equipment & Technology Innovations
COVID-19 tests detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA by real-time PCR. We know from our experience in viral diagnostics (SPH-Virology) and precision medicine (BC-CfE) however that traditional PCR can yield false-negative results when virus levels are low. As false-negative results have major public health implications, there is an urgent need to characterize COVID-19 test sensitivity. A quantitative SARS-CoV-2 viral load assay is also urgently needed. Similar to how viral load assays have revolutionized the clinical management of HIV and other viruses, a quantitative assay would allow SARS-CoV-2 levels to be monitored in body fluids during the infection's natural history as a surrogate of transmission probability and would allow rapid evaluation of therapeutic intervention efficacy. We will harness our expertise in viral diagnostics and precision medicine to rapidly deliver: 1. Sensitive molecular methods for SARS-CoV-2 detection including a quantitative viral load assay, 2. Access to these methods for clinical and research end-users across BC.