COVID-19 Impact Part 1: Preparedness and Response Across China & Indo-Pacific Rim Region - Q&A

Is there a plan to test biorepository scientists for COVID-19 infection on a regular basis? If the test is positive, how will that be handled?

Specific guidance to COVID19 is not available yet. One solution could be utilization of pooling. See this article for reference. This is typical and classical lab method in gene hunting in 90s. This article from an Italian colleague may also be a good reference. (Dr. Koh Furuta)

We do have regular tests for all individuals working in the testing lab to avoid contamination. However, we do not test all biorepository scientists on a regular basis since we do not have any one infected in our site. (Dr. Xun Xu)

Can we store virus collected in transfer media directly from nasopharyngeal swab?

In our experience, we only store them for 1-2 days before transfer to the testing lab. In the testing lab, we will store ˜400ul media for potential validation if needed. The virus RNA in transfer media seems not that stable and we found the LoD normally significantly decreases after a week. (Dr. Xun Xu)

Please see this article which may be of interest. (Dr. Koh Furuta)

Is inactivation only done to swab samples? What would you suggest for other types of specimen, regarding SARS COV2 also found in other types of specimens?

This depends on the purpose of testing. For virus RNA testing, it would be safer to do inactivation on swab, fecal, BALF, sputum et cl. (Dr. Xun Xu)

Some people were disposing of samples after two weeks. Do people keep them for longer for future research?

This would depend on your local/national regulations. (Dr. Koh Furuta)

Pharma are working towards a vaccine. How do they handle sample storage? Is there a support system that would help pharma?

ISBER and BBMRI-ERIC are now trying to merge their own directory of COVID19 biobanks. This may help not only pharma but also various research partners. (Dr. Koh Furuta)

Dr. Xu in the National Gene Bank was storing between 4C and -20C. Indonesia are using -80C freezers. Are there different temperatures required for different samples/specimens stored? In general, biobanks are not able to handle infectious products. They are shut down during a pandemic. Is this an opportunity?

It depends on your purpose. From the standpoint of clinical laboratory, -20C storage is just for temporary purpose. Ice crystals may have a problem. (Dr. Koh Furuta)

Is there an opportunity for biobanks to be a testing facility?

This would depend on your local and social environment. (Dr. Koh Furuta)