Clinical Evaluation of the cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test and a Diagnostic Platform Switch during 48 Hours in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.J Clin Microbiol. 2020 05 26; 58(6)JC
Laboratories are currently witnessing extraordinary demand globally for sampling devices, reagents, consumables, and diagnostic instruments needed for timely diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. To meet diagnostic needs as the pandemic grows, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted several commercial SARS-CoV-2 tests Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), but manufacturer-independent evaluation data are scarce. We performed the first manufacturer-independent evaluation of the fully automated sample-to-result two-target test cobas 6800 SARS-CoV-2 (cobas) (Roche Molecular Systems, Branchburg, NJ), which received U.S. FDA EUA on 12 March 2020. The comparator was a standardized 3-h SARS-CoV-2 protocol, consisting of RNA extraction using an automated portable instrument, followed by a two-target reverse transcription real-time PCR (RT-PCR), which our laboratory has routinely used since January 2020 [V. M. Corman, O. Landt, M. Kaiser, R. Molenkamp, et al., Euro Surveill 25(3):pii=2000045, 2020, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.3.2000045]. cobas and the comparator showed overall agreement of 98.1% and a kappa value of 0.95 on an in-house validation panel consisting of 217 well-characterized retrospective samples. Immediate prospective head-to-head comparative evaluation followed on 502 samples, and the diagnostic approaches showed overall agreement of 99.6% and a kappa value of 0.98. A good correlation (r2 = 0.96) between cycle threshold values for SARS-CoV-2-specific targets obtained by cobas and the comparator was observed. Our results showed that cobas is a reliable assay for qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal swab samples collected in the Universal Transport Medium System (UTM-RT) (Copan, Brescia, Italy). Under the extraordinary circumstances that laboratories are facing worldwide, a safe diagnostic platform switch is feasible in only 48 h and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic if carefully planned and executed.