COVID-19 TESTING: DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REAL TIME PCR AND A TRADITIONAL PCR AKA THERMAL CYCLER

Our attention has been drawn to the sudden upsurge in demand of PCR “thermal cylers” for #covid19testing.

As an exclusive distributor of these equipment in Nigeria, we have received a number of requests to supply as much as 9 to 15 units of PCR at less than 3 million naira per unit. It is indicative that this request is mostly likely for government project. We hereby feel obliged to educate the public including stakeholders making these requests and vendors supplying these equipment before an expensive mistake is made.

SHORT ANSWER: TRADITIONAL PCR MACHINES CAN’T BE USED FOR COVID-19 TESTING. PLEASE DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY.

LONG ANSWER: YOU DON’T WANT TO USE A THERMAL CYCLER TO TEST FOR COVID-19

There is big difference between real time PCR (aka real time thermal cycler machine) and a thermal cylers (aka conventional PCR machine).

From first principle, PCR is a technique used to generate more copies of a particular segment gene from a pool of other genes in the presence of an enzyme subjected to different temperature cycles. It’s basically a “molecular photocopier”

The method you wish to use to be able to ascertain the quality and quantity of the copies of your gene of interest (e.g #SARSCov2) generated depends on the kind of PCR machine you have.

A thermal cycler will require that you carry out a so called “post PCR” analysis. Examples include gel electrophoresis, sequencing etc. This obviously require higher skills, more instruments, prohibitive consumable cost and days of work to produce result. This is definitely not what is needed for the quick diagnosis of COVID-19 in any hospital or laboratory.

On the other hand, a real time PCR has the capacity to detect the quantity and quality of a gene of interest in real time (on a computer software) without the need to do a post PCR analysis.That’s what is needed for #covid-19 testing.

In fact real-time PCR that can detect covid-19 in less than 50 mins such as Mygo Pro, Mygo Mini and Primer design are favoured ahead of the older generation real time PCR that takes 3:30 – 4hrs run time to produce results.

Please be informed.

3 comments

  1. Reply

    Thank you so much for this. Please may I know the individual cost of this real time pcr machine.

    Must the scientist testing for covid be fully kitted with the ppe and must analysis be carried out in a biosafety cabinet. If yes what level of biosafety cabinet.
    Thank you.

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