Background The 2013–2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak showed a lack of diagnostic point-of-care methods. Currently, EBOV diagnosis relies on quantitative reverse-transcription-PCR (RT- qPCR), highly specific and sensitive, but requiring skilled personnel and well-equipped laboratories. In field settings, these factors and others, such as samples’ time of collection and transportation, determine a prolonged turnaround-time to final results. In outbreak scenarios, a rapid and transportable method could eliminate issues of cohorting suspected and actual EVD patients for lack of diagnostic certainty. The aim of this study was the field evaluation of the new fast, easy-to-use and reliable RT-qPCR assay and platform for EBOV detection, developed in the framework of the EbolaMoDRAD project by CLONIT S.r.l. and STMicroelectronics S.r.l. Study design We evaluated its performance during the outbreak and in further studies in the EVD laboratory at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) in Freetown (Sierra Leone) run by Emergency NGO and the Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases (INMI). The assay was tested on residual aliquots of clinical specimens from EBOV-positive or −negative patients (n = 116, EVD prevalence 37%). Results and conclusion Overall, the test was very easy-to-use and the instrument was robust and reliable in field-settings. The sensitivity of the assay was 100% and the specificity was 98.63% (95%CI: 96.34–100.92%). The positive and negative predictive values were 97.73 (95%CI:94.77–100.68%) and 100%, respectively. The high sensitivity and specificity of this new assay indicate that it is promising for laboratory diagnosis, especially in resource-limited settings.
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