Testing for COVID-19

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Sandia tests its workforce for COVID-19 infection

To protect mission-essential functions, keep our workface safe and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at Sandia facilities, Sandia became the first Department of Energy lab on April 7 to start testing its workforce for COVID-19 infection. The Labs continues to offer on-site swabbing to collect samples for COVID-19 diagnosis of employees and on-site subcontractors who are symptomatic or have come into contact with a presumed or COVID-19 symptomatic case. Swabbing is also provided to employees to meet travel requirements and personnel needing to be tested routinely such as healthcare workers and first responders. Samples collected at Sandia are processed off-site by Quest Diagnostics.

Portable, 20-minute COVID-19 diagnostic system development

Researchers at Sandia are developing a novel approach to viral detection focusing on a simplified workflow and low-cost portable instrumentation that could be controlled by a smartphone. Sandia’s previous research with Zika indicated that, using Sandia’s “QUASR” assay chemistry, viral RNA can be detected directly from clinical matrices with no sample preparation, in other words without RNA extraction, which is the most time- and labor-intensive step in standard laboratory diagnostic protocols. We are applying this novel detection scheme for rapid, portable detection of SARS-CoV-2 of both clinical and environmental samples.

Rapid Point-of-Care Serological Tests

Sandia is developing a panel of immunoassays enabling detection of viral antigens (Ags) and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (Abs) produced by the host in response to infection. These immunoassays will be implemented Sandia’s portable SpinDx platform, which also offers rapid detection without need for sample preparation. A newer version of SpinDx adds the capability to detect nucleic acid markers using a LAMP assay. Simultaneous detection of viral RNA, combined with the detection of host response to infection via immunoassays, will be a powerful way to diagnose COVID-19 at all stages of disease. Moreover, this combination of assay types would enable us to both positively identify SARS-CoV-2 and rule out influenza or other coronaviruses.