The US FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Illumina COVIDSeq Test, the first COVID-19 diagnostic test utilizing next generation sequence technology. The test is authorized for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA from respiratory specimens collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider.
Next generation sequencing is a type of diagnostic technology that can determine, among other things, the genetic sequence of a virus. Comparing sequencing results over time can help scientists understand if and how viruses mutate, according to Illumina Inc.
COVIDSeq uses upper respiratory specimens, including a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab, and delivers sample receipt to result in 24 hours using the NovaSeq 6000 Sequencing System. The differentiated diagnostic design includes 98 amplicons that target the full SARS-CoV-2 genome, creating accurate detection and high sensitivity. COVIDSeq is currently available to a limited number of early access sites, and is expected to be more broadly available this summer.
The workflow accommodates up to 3,072 samples per NovaSeq run leveraging the S4 flow cell, and includes steps for viral RNA extraction, RNA-to-CDNA conversion, PCR, library preparation, sequencing and report generation. The key components leveraged include the NovaSeq 6000, coupled with Illumina Tagmentation library preparation technology, and the Dragen COVIDSeq Test Pipeline for rapid reporting.
“COVIDSeq leverages the performance of NGS to help address the global need for diagnostic testing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Francis deSouza, CEO of Illumina. “Beyond diagnostic testing, Illumina and a number of our customers are exploring NGS-based workflows to enable high-volume screening to support a return to work and school.”