How to tackle single target gene positive results of SARS-CoV-2 real-time PCR: A cross-sectional study.

Publication date: Sep 01, 2023

Real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR) is the gold standard test for diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). However, when the test result is near the detection limit of the assay the possibility of getting false positive or negative results is high. In addition, it might result in single target gene positive (STGP) results which should be interpreted with caution. This study was performed on 29,962 nasal swabs from July 1 to August 31, 2020. Ct values less than 40 for each or both of N and RdRp genes were recommended to be selected as positive. Positive samples for one gene with the Cts more than 35 were rechecked by adding more templates. The results showed that 1016 (3. 39%) samples were positive just for one gene with high Ct values. The results of the second reactions showed that 325 (31. 99%) samples were positive for both N and RdRp which were reported positive, 301 (29. 65%) were positive only for one gene which were considered as suspicious cases and resampling was suggested for them. Finally, 390 (38. 385%) samples were negative for both genes. In conclusion, tracking weak positive results of SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR revealed that most of the individuals who were STGP clean the infection completely in less than a week which showed they were in the convalescent phase of infection. However, some of them who were in the beginning of infection showed a decrease in Ct value during a week, so they could spread the virus in the society.

Concepts Keywords
August COVID‐19
Coronavirus real‐time PCR
Pcr SARS‐CoV‐2
Severe single gene positive


Type Source Name
disease VO gene
disease VO time
drug DRUGBANK Gold
disease VO Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
disease IDO assay
disease MESH infection
disease MESH COVID19

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