At the onset of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic in the United States, testing was limited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-developed reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction assay. The urgent and massive demand for testing prompted swift development of assays to detect SARS-CoV-2. The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of these newly developed tests.
The American Proficiency Institute sent 2 test samples to 346 clinical laboratories in order to assess the accuracy of SARS-CoV-2 assays. The positive sample, containing 5,175 viral copies/mL, was fully extractable with SARS-CoV-2 viral capsid protein and RNA. The negative sample, with 3,951 viral copies/mL, contained recombinant virus particles with sequences for targeting human RNAase P gene sequences.
Of the laboratories submitting results, 97.4% (302/310) correctly detected the virus when present and 98.3% (296/301) correctly indicated when the virus was not present. Among incorrect results reported in this proficiency challenge, 76.9% (10/13) were likely related to clerical error. This accounts for 1.6% (10/611) of all reported results.
Overall performance in this SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection challenge was excellent, providing confidence in the results of these new molecular tests and assurance for the clinical and public health decisions based on these test results.

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