Analysis of inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 by specimen transport media, nucleic acid extraction reagents, detergents, and fixatives

Stephen R. Welch, Katherine A. Davies, Hubert Buczkowski, Nipunadi Hettiarachchi, Nicole Green, Ulrike Arnold, Matthew Jones, Matthew J. Hannah, Reah Evans, Christopher Burton, Jane E. Burton, Malcolm Guiver, Patricia A. Cane, Neil Woodford, Christine B. Bruce, Allen D.G. Roberts, Marian J. Killip*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a multifaceted rapid response by the scientific community, bringing researchers, health officials, and industry together to address the ongoing public health emergency. To meet this challenge, participants need an informed approach for working safely with the etiological agent, the novel human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Work with infectious SARS-CoV-2 is currently restricted to high-containment laboratories, but material can be handled at a lower containment level after inactivation. Given the wide array of inactivation reagents that are being used in laboratories during this pandemic, it is vital that their effectiveness is thoroughly investigated. Here, we evaluated a total of 23 commercial reagents designed for clinical sample transportation, nucleic acid extraction, and virus inactivation for their ability to inactivate SARS-CoV-2, as well as seven other common chemicals, including detergents and fixatives. As part of this study, we have also tested five filtration matrices for their effectiveness at removing the cytotoxic elements of each reagent, permitting accurate determination of levels of infectious virus remaining following treatment. In addition to providing critical data informing inactivation methods and risk assessments for diagnostic and research laboratories working with SARS-CoV-2, these data provide a framework for other laboratories to validate their inactivation processes and to guide similar studies for other pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01713-20
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number11
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Public Health England. The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST) is funded by UK aid from the Department of Health and Social Care and is jointly run by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The University of Oxford and King’s College London are academic partners.

Publisher Copyright:
© Crown copyright 2020.


  • Biosafety
  • Clinical diagnostics
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Diagnostics
  • Inactivation
  • Lysis buffers
  • Molecular extraction reagents
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Safety testing
  • Specimen transport tubes


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