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SARS-CoV-2 Point of Care: a new UK NEQAS for Microbiology EQA scheme

Point-of-care testing for the SARS-CoV-2 has expanded exponentially over the past two years, resulting in the need for an external quality assessment scheme for this activity. Here, Heather Crowton and colleagues introduce a new EQA scheme.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an RNA virus that causes respiratory illness through human-to-human transmission.1

                Rapid point-of-care (POC) tests, such as antigen tests and molecular assays, have been commercialised to support diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection; detecting antigens or nucleic acids in samples taken during active infection.2 With varying sensitivities between POC brands, further testing to confirm diagnosis using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was considered until recently.3 In addition, a national systematic evaluation of lateral-flow device (LFD) sensitivity and specificity concluded that LFD test performance varied by viral load and whether or not the operator of the test was laboratory trained.4

                As a result of these factors, along with the increasing use of these tests, external quality assessment (EQA) to assess the performance of SARS-CoV-2 POC testing completed by various organisations is required.

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