Effect of different storage conditions on COVID-19 RT-PCR results

Gulec E. Y. , Cesur N. P. , Fazlioglu G. Y. , Kazezoglu C.

JOURNAL OF MEDICAL VIROLOGY, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/jmv.27204
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, polymerase chain reaction, RT-PCR, SARS-CoV-2, viral transport medium, TRANSPORT MEDIA, TRANSMISSION, VIRUSES, SWABS


Reliable and rapid detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in laboratory setting is critical to control the pandemic. We aimed to an evaluated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) efficiency of nasopharyngeal swabs stored in viral transport medium (VTM) in different temperatures. Ninety swabs taken into VTM were analyzed at the first hour, then divided into two groups with similar numbers of positive and negative samples. Positive samples of each group were also subgrouped according to Fam CT values as low CT (<25), medium CT (25-32), and high CT (32-38) groups. One group was stored at 4 degrees C, while the other was stored at room temperature, PCR analyses were repeated every 24 h for 5 days and on Day 12. There was a total of 30 positive samples (12 low CT, 11 medium CT, and 7 high CT). The CT values of both groups remained unchanged in first 3 days while the CT values of the room temperature group increased after the third day. All of the positive samples remained positive in both groups for the first 5 days. On the 12th day, the total number of positives decreased to 8 in the room temperature group and 11 in the 4 degrees C groups. All the low CT samples remained positive in both groups. In conclusion, it is safe to store positive samples in room temperature for up to 5 days. Only samples with high viral loads remain positive for 12 days, regardless of whether stored at room temperature or 4 degrees C. Negative samples don't turn to invalid if stored in VTM.