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Factors affecting turnaround time of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing for inpatient infection prevention and control decision making: analysis of data from the COG-UK HOCI study.

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Colton, H 
Parker, MD 
Stirrup, O 
Blackstone, J 
Loose, M 


BACKGROUND: Barriers to rapid return of sequencing results can affect the utility of sequence data for infection prevention and control decisions. AIM: To undertake a mixed-methods analysis to identify challenges that sites faced in achieving a rapid turnaround time (TAT) in the COVID-19 Genomics UK Hospital-Onset COVID-19 Infection (COG-UK HOCI) study. METHODS: For the quantitative analysis, timepoints relating to different stages of the sequencing process were extracted from both the COG-UK HOCI study dataset and surveys of study sites. Qualitative data relating to the barriers and facilitators to achieving rapid TATs were included from thematic analysis. FINDINGS: The overall TAT, from sample collection to receipt of sequence report by infection control teams, varied between sites (median 5.1 days, range 3.0-29.0 days). Most variation was seen between reporting of a positive COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) result to sequence report generation (median 4.0 days, range 2.3-27.0 days). On deeper analysis, most of this variability was accounted for by differences in the delay between the COVID-19 PCR result and arrival of the sample at the sequencing laboratory (median 20.8 h, range 16.0-88.7 h). Qualitative analyses suggest that closer proximity of sequencing laboratories to diagnostic laboratories, increased staff flexibility and regular transport times facilitated a shorter TAT. CONCLUSION: Integration of pathogen sequencing into diagnostic laboratories may help to improve sequencing TAT to allow sequence data to be of tangible value to infection control practice. Adding a quality control step upstream to increase capacity further down the workflow may also optimize TAT if lower quality samples are removed at an earlier stage.



Infection control, SARS-CoV-2, Sequencing, Turnaround time, Humans, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Inpatients, Decision Making, United Kingdom

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J Hosp Infect

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Elsevier BV
MRC (MC_PC_19027)
UK Research and Innovation (MC_PC_19027)