Huma Qureshi, Ana Carrasco Duran, Hassan Mahmood, Zahida Sarwar, Khalid Mahmood, Krishna Midde, Jesse A. Canchola, Neil T. Parkin, Benjamin La Brot

Context‐dependent accuracy of the cobas plasma separation card for HCV RNA viral load measurement

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Hepatology

AbstractCollection and preservation of plasma are challenging in remote or under‐resourced settings. The cobas® Plasma Separation Card (PSC) is an alternative specimen type for blood‐borne pathogen nucleic acid quantitation. We assessed PSC as a specimen type for HCV RNA quantitation in Pakistan. Plasma from venous blood and PSC from finger prick blood were prepared at two sites: Site 1 (in Lahore, n = 199) consisted of laboratory‐based outpatient clinics. Specimens were prepared in the same facility and stored frozen. Site 2 was a catchment area within a resource‐limited, semi‐urban locality of Islamabad with limited access to healthcare services (n = 151). Community public health outreach staff collected blood and prepared the PSC in the participants' homes. Specimens were transported to the central hepatitis laboratory in Lahore to be stored frozen until tested. HCV RNA testing was performed using the cobas HCV RNA test in a central laboratory. Concordance with respect to RNA detectability was high at Site 1 (97.4%), but lower at Site 2 (82.4%). At Site 1, HCV viral load in plasma and PSC were well correlated across the linear range with a 0.21 log10 IU/mL mean bias toward higher concentrations in PSC. At Site 2, HCV viral load in plasma and PSC were poorly correlated. There was a 0.11 log10 IU/mL mean bias toward higher concentrations in PSC. PSC performance can be excellent in underserved settings where refrigerated transport of traditional specimens is difficult. In very challenging field settings, extra support must be provided to ensure correct specimen collection and handling.

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