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The testing pathway

A video interview and an article explaining the route of a testing sample

In this video, Harper VanSteenhouse, Site Director of the Glasgow lighthouse testing lab, explains in detail the testing pathway of swab samples in a large testing lab.

In summary, this is the testing pathway of a swab from collection to genome data sharing in public databases:

1- Throat and/or nasal swabs are collected by health professionals or by people self-swabbing.

2- Afterwards the swabs are sent to a diagnostic laboratory. They are labelled with a unique identifier (barcode) so the samples don’t get mixed up. The sample information is also uploaded to a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to guarantee traceability.

3- In the laboratory, the samples are initially inactivated and the nucleic acid extracted so it’s safe to handle them in containment level 2 conditions. Finally, they can be tested using molecular diagnostic tests (e.g. RT-qPCR for SARS-CoV-2) and the diagnostic results are sent back to the requester.

4- The journey of many samples does not end here, as many are sent to other laboratories for genome sequencing. The samples then undergo one of several sequencing protocols to determine the genome of the virus.

5 – The data associated with this sample: demographic data, PCR results and sequencing data are then analysed. Following several quality control steps, the sequencing data and essential sample information are uploaded to public databases, so they can be used worldwide.

Decorative image illustrating the points 1-5 of the testing pathway described above

This article is from the free online

From Swab to Server: Testing, Sequencing, and Sharing During a Pandemic

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