The PANDORA-ID-NET consortium has members who are experts in the field of diagnostics, virology, coronaviruses and the closely related MERS-CoV. As a result, we have been able to provide expert advice, especially on SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tools and validation.
There is already lots of excellent, robust information available on the internet regarding SARS-CoV-2 (see The Global Health Network COVID-19 Knowledge Hub), but there are also many sources which do not provide well researched information. The aim of this PANDORA-ID-NET COVID-19 hub is to provide a repository of links, compiled by our experienced scientists, to sources of trusted information. The layout of this hub is designed to help you plan your COVID-19 research project(s) from start to finish in a safe, robust manner. Whilst the information may be of use for diagnostics, these pages are aimed at research studies. The decision tree aims to help you choose the correct diagnostic test(s) based on the type of study you aim to undertake and the subsequent diagnostic test pages link you to all of the information you will need to set up and run these assays. This includes the best type of sample to take for your test, safe transportation and processing of your samples, links to studies who have validated the test and how to analyse your data.
We know that procurement of reagents and resources has been a serious issue for sites across the world and so we have provided links to a nucleic acid standards for RT-qPCR, as well as protocols for making and validating your own swabs and viral transport media.
We know that this hub is not exhaustive and that research into COVID-19 is moving quickly, so we have also set up pages detailing future potential tests as well as a forum where you can ask questions about COVID-19 diagnostic testing which our members will answer. We hope to provide a diagnostic community across Africa and beyond, providing a knowledge exchange which will enable us to combat SARS-CoV-2 globally.
Qiagen have produced a document describing 'critical factors for successful real time PCR' which may be of use when optimising procedures.
Database for sourcing reference materials
This link is for a database of suppliers who can provide reference materials for the validation of molecular assays.
It is important that any research you do complies with the ethical standards in your country (and other countries if it is a multi-country study). Whilst many COVID-19 related research projects are being fast tracked through ethical approval processes, you will need to factor in time for this to be processed before you start collecting samples. The following links provide general information about ethics in the context of COVID-19.