Evaluation of commercially available viral transport medium (VTM) for SARS-CoV-2 inactivation and use in point-of-care (POC) testing

David Van Bockel*, C. Mee Ling Munier, Stuart Turville, Steven G. Badman, Gregory Walker, Alberto Ospina Stella, Anupriya Aggarwal, Malinna Yeang, Anna Condylios, Anthony D. Kelleher, Tanya L. Applegate, Andrew Vallely, David Whiley, William Rawlinson, Phillip Cunningham, John Kaldor, Rebecca Guy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Critical to facilitating SARS-CoV-2 point-of-care (POC) testing is assurance that viruses present in specimens are inactivated onsite prior to processing. Here, we conducted experiments to determine the virucidal activity of commercially available Viral Transport Mediums (VTMs) to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. Independent testing methods for viral inactivation testing were applied, including a previously described World Health Organization (WHO) protocol, in addition to a buffer exchange method where the virus is physically separated from the VTM post exposure. The latter method enables sensitive detection of viral viability at higher viral titre when incubated with VTM. We demonstrate that VTM formulations, Primestore® Molecular Transport Medium (MTM) and COPAN eNAT™ completely inactivate high-titre SARS-CoV-2 virus (>1 × 107 copies/mL) and are compatible with POC processing. Furthermore, full viral inactivation was rapidly achieved in as little as 2 min of VTM exposure. We conclude that adding certain VTM formulations as a first step post specimen collection will render SARS-CoV-2 non-infectious for transport, or for further in-field POC molecular testing using rapid turnaround GeneXpert platforms or equivalent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1208
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge VIDRL (Julian Druce) for providing the VeroE6 cell line and clinical isolate SARS-CoV-2/VIC00121. We would like to acknowledge Leon McNally (Sydney Pathology) and Andrew Gia (St George and Sutherland Clinical School) for providing transport mediums for testing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.


  • Diagnostic
  • Inactivation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Virucidal


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