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8th April 2021  Content supplied by: Gold Standard Diagnostics

Detecting SARS-CoV-2 Variant Types with VIRType SARS-CoV-2 Kits

Since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic in March 2020, scientists have been developing means to assist the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus through the development of treatments, vaccinations, as well as testing strategies. Testing has been a key component in many countries’ approaches, and initial tests were developed early on. However, in late 2020 a new variant was discovered in the South-East of England, and a number of different strains have since been identified. Initial investigations have shown that some of the variants tend to show higher infectivity and potentially greater health effects, creating a need for new, variant-specific tests. These SARS-CoV-2 variant types often carry multiple spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other genomic regions. The spike protein plays an important role in the entry of the virus into the host cells and is an important factor to consider during vaccine development and effectivity; for that reason, variant detection and identification are crucial.

In countries such as Germany, recent figures have shown that the percentage of infections with the British variant now far outweigh the infections with the ‘original’ SARS-CoV-2 wild type strain. In order to enable testing for the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, such as the UK lineage B.1.1.7, South Africa lineage B.1.351, and the Brazil lineage P1 Eurofins GeneScan Technologies has developed highly sensitive variant-specific RT-PCR kits.

The VIRType variant detection kits have been designed as confirmatory assays in order to distinguish between the variant types following a SARS-CoV-2 positive RT-PCR result. The kits include highly specific primer/probe combinations, which facilitate the specific detection of the variant types. Furthermore, these kits tie into the VIRSeek SARS-CoV-2 Solution, which covers all the steps from sample collection to RNA extraction and the specific detection of SARS-CoV-2. The solution also includes the AOAC PTM-certified VIRSeek SARS-CoV-2 Mplex, which enables sensitive detection of the SARS-CoV-2 wild-type strain using primers and probes specific for the N1 and N2 gene region. Like the VIRSeek SARS-CoV-2 solution kits, the VIRType assays have been validated for samples extracted from various matrices, including environmental surface sample swabs as well as wastewater, which enable the detection as well as aiding monitoring efforts.

The VIRType kits currently enable the detection and distinction of three of the main variants of concern: the UK, South Africa, and Brazil lineages. In detail, the VIRType SARS-CoV-2 Mplex (A570D, N501Y) is a multiplex assay that enables the distinction between lineage B1.1.7 on the one hand and lineages B1.351 and P1 on the other, in one reaction. Simplex assays such as VIRType SARS-CoV-2 (A570D) and VIRType SARS-CoV-2 (K417N) specifically detect the single point mutations at the respective positions within the spike-gene region, enabling the identification of the UK variant and the South African variant strain, respectively.

Overview of the VIRType Kits:

  • VIRType Mplex SARS-CoV-2 (N501Y, A570D)

Cat. no. 5728401301 (48 reactions)

  • VIRType SARS-CoV-2 (K417N)

Cat. no. 5728401501 (48 reactions)

  • VIRType SARS-CoV-2 (A570D)

Cat. no. 5728401401 (48 reactions)

Additional kits for the detection of other variant types are under development and as new strains are discovered Eurofins GeneScan Technologies will continue to develop assays that enable the detection of emerging variants of concern.

Benefits of the VIRType kits:

  • Specific detection of variants of concern
  • Confirmatory assay following the AOAC PTM certified VIRSeek SARS-CoV-2 workflow, which covers all steps from sampling to RNA Extraction and SARS-CoV-2 detection
  • Ongoing development of new assays to cover the latest variants

We offer different training solutions, including webinars and online technical consultations. For more information about our kits please click the green "Request Information" button below.

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Date Published: 8th April 2021

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