Evaluation of sample pooling using the SAMBA II SARS-CoV-2 test

Katy Heaney, Allyson V. Ritchie*, Rowan Henry, Adam J. Harvey, Martin D. Curran, Jean Pierre Allain, Helen H. Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Screening of infectious asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals for SARS-CoV-2 is at present a key to controling the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to expand testing capability and limit cost, pool testing of asymtomatic individuals has been proposed, provided assay performance is not significantly affected. Methods: Combined nose and throat (N/T) swabs collected from COVID-19 infected or non-infected individuals were tested using SAMBA II individually and in pools of four (one positive and 3 negative). The evaluation was conducted by the manufacturer and an independent NHS site. Ct cycles of individual positives and pooled positives were determined by qRT-PCR. Results: In 42 pools containing a single positive sample with Ct values ranging between 17 and 36, 41 pools (97.6 %) were found positive by the SARS-CoV-2 SAMBA II test. The false-negative pool by SAMBA was also negative by both reference methods used in this evaluation.The individual positive sample in this pool was positive by SAMBA (Orf only) and by one of the reference methods (S gene only, Ct 35) but negative by the second reference method indicating that the sample itself was very low viral load. All 78 pools containing 4 negative swabs were negative (100 % specificity). Discussion: The preliminary data of the evaluation indicated a high level of performance in both sensitivity and specificity of the SAMBA II assay when used to test pools of 4 patient samples. The implementation of this pooled protocol can increase throughput and reduce cost/test when the prevalence of COVID is low.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114340
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DRW funded the study and lent SAMBA-II machines to Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and provided the SAMBA-II SARS-CoV-2 test kits for the duration of the study. Assays performed at the CMPHL were a generous contribution to the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • COVID-19
  • Molecular testing
  • Point-of-care
  • Pool testing
  • SARS-CoV-2


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