Validating the inactivation of viral pathogens with a focus on SARS-CoV-2 to safely transfer samples from high-containment laboratories Academic Article uri icon


  • IntroductionPathogen leak from a high-containment laboratory seriously threatens human safety, animal welfare, and environmental security. Transportation of pathogens from a higher (BSL4 or BSL3) to a lower (BSL2) containment laboratory for downstream experimentation requires complete pathogen inactivation. Validation of pathogen inactivation is necessary to ensure safety during transportation. This study established a validation strategy for virus inactivation. MethodsSARS-CoV-2 wild type, delta, and omicron variants underwent heat treatment at 95C for 10 minutes using either a hot water bath or a thermocycler. To validate the inactivation process, heat-treated viruses, and untreated control samples were incubated with A549-hACE2 and Vero E6-TMPRSS2-T2A-ACE2 cells. The cells were monitored for up to 72 hours for any cytopathic effects, visually and under a microscope, and for virus genome replication via RT-qPCR. The quality of post-treated samples was assessed for suitability in downstream molecular testing applications. ResultsHeat treatment at 95C for 10 minutes effectively inactivated SARS-CoV-2 variants. The absence of cytopathic effects, coupled with the inability of virus genome replication, validated the efficacy of the inactivation process. Furthermore, the heat-treated samples proved to be qualified for COVID-19 antigen testing, RT-qPCR, and whole-genome sequencing. DiscussionBy ensuring the safety of sample transportation for downstream experimentation, this validation approach enhances biosecurity measures. Considerations for potential limitations, comparisons with existing inactivation methods, and broader implications of the findings are discussed.

published proceedings

  • Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

author list (cited authors)

  • Chaki, S. P., Kahl-McDonagh, M. M., Neuman, B. W., & Zuelke, K. A.

complete list of authors

  • Chaki, Sankar Prasad||Kahl-McDonagh, Melissa M||Neuman, Benjamin W||Zuelke, Kurt A

publication date

  • March 2024