Portable RT-PCR system: A rapid and scalable diagnostic tool for COVID-19 testing

Hosam M. Zowawi, Thamer H. Alenazi, Waleed S. AlOmaim, Ahmad Wazzan, Abdullah Alsufayan, Rihab A. Hasanain, Omar S. Aldibasi, Sahar Althawadi, Sarah A. Altamimi, Maysoon Mutabagani, Maha Alamri, Reem S. Almaghrabi, Hail M. Al-Abdely, Ziad A. Memish, Saleh A. Alqahtani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Combating the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic demands accurate, rapid, and point-of-care testing with fast results to triage cases for isolation and treatment. The current testing relies on reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR), which is routinely performed in well-equipped laboratories by trained professionals at specific locations. However, during busy periods, high numbers of samples queued for testing can delay the test results, impacting efforts to reduce the infection risk. Besides, the absence of well-established laboratories at remote sites and low-resourced environments can contribute to a silent spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). These reasons compel the need to accommodate point-of-care testing for COVID-19 that meets the ASSURED criteria (affordable, sensitive, specific, user-friendly, rapid and robust, equipment-free, and deliverable). This study assessed the agreement and accuracy of the portable Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 system against the gold standard tests. Nasopharyngeal and nasal swabs were used. Of the 192 samples tested using the Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 system, the results from 189 samples (98.4%) were in agreement with the reference standard-of-care RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2. The portable system generated simultaneous results for nine samples in 80 min with high positive and negative percent agreements of 99.0% and 97.8%, respectively. We performed separate testing in a sealed glove box, offering complete biosafety containment. Thus, the Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 system can help decentralize COVID-19 testing and offer rapid test results for patients in remote and low-resourced settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03004-20
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Biomeme
  • COVID-19
  • Point-of-care
  • Portable
  • RT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Portable RT-PCR system: A rapid and scalable diagnostic tool for COVID-19 testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this