dPCR as an accurate molecular tool to support infectious disease monitoring in outbreaks such as COVID-19 and Monkeypox
Accurate molecular testing has been identified as an important tool in managing infectious disease outbreaks that may lead to epidemics or pandemics. PCR (typically using real-time qPCR platforms) is a popular method for identifying the presence of pathogen genomic material to monitor infectious diseases as it is highly dynamic, quick to deploy and thus responds to a rapidly spreading infectious disease outbreak. The analytical performance of such PCR-based methods needs to be characterized and this is typically conducted using control/reference materials. These materials come in a variety of formats and offer a valuable route to providing testing confidence. However, they must be shared across a nation or internationally for broader standardization/harmonization. Digital PCR (dPCR) offers a more reproducible alternative to qPCR that can also be deployed as a molecular testing solution. However, this format is less widely available. This presentation will explore dPCR as a molecular tool as well as outline other potentially vital roles of this method in outbreak response by providing a reference measurement procedure that can complement material standards used to control rapidly deployed qPCR assays.