Diagnostic assays for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are essential for patient management, infection prevention, and the public health response for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The efficacy and reliability of these assays are of paramount importance in both tracking and controlling the spread of the virus. Real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assays rely on a fixed genetic sequence for primer and probe binding. Mutations can potentially alter the accuracy of these assays and lead to unpredictable analytical performance characteristics and falsenegative results. Here, we identify a G-to-U transversion (nucleotide 26372) in the SARSCoV- 2 E gene in three specimens with reduced viral detection efficiency using a widely available commercial assay. Further analysis of the public GISAID repository led to the identification of 18 additional genomes with this mutation, which reflect five independent mutational events. This work supports the use of dual-target assays to reduce the number of false-negative PCR results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00075-21
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Mutation
  • RT-PCR
  • SARS-CoV-2


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