Maricic T, Nickel O, Aximu-Petri A, Essel E, Gansauge M, Kanis P, Macak D, Richter J, Riesenberg S, Bokelmann L, Zeberg H, Meyer M, Borte S, Pääbo S
PLoS One 15 (12) e0244824 [2020-12-31; online 2020-12-31]
SARS-CoV-2 causes substantial morbidity and mortality in elderly and immunocompromised individuals, particularly in retirement homes, where transmission from asymptomatic staff and visitors may introduce the infection. Here we present a cheap and fast screening method based on direct RT-qPCR to detect SARS-CoV-2 in single or pooled gargle lavages ("mouthwashes"). This method detects individuals with large viral loads (Ct≤29) and we use it to test all staff at a nursing home daily over a period of three weeks in order to reduce the risk that the infection penetrates the facility. This or similar approaches can be implemented to protect hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions in this and future viral epidemics.