Methods and Compliance Adopted in Controlling Infectivity of COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 and facilitating Sample/Specimen Handling under BSL-2 Containment for Research and Process Development Activities


The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has presented the healthcare and scientific research community with an uphill task in testing, controlling, and finding the prevention or cure for the pandemic. A significant amount of challenge related to testing and research activities arise as SARS-CoV-2 is a risk group 3 (RG3) agent and requires for all activities that use live virus for diagnostics, screening, surveillance, process development and scientific research to be handled in the Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) biocontainment facility environment. Low availability of the BSL-3 laboratories presents a daunting challenge for health care and research personnel, globally. Therefore, specific sample manipulation followed by risk assessment approach will allow the work to be carried in a Biosafety Level-2 (BSL-2) laboratory with enhanced practices. In the present scenario, this approach will maximize the testing and research activities along with minimizing the risk of infection for personnel involved in this process. The regulatory agencies have laid down interim guidelines for carrying out the work in BSL-2 laboratories but there has been a lot of confusion amongst the research community in adopting those guidelines in their basic science research laboratory set-up. This is due to the interim guidelines being mainly formulated around the way the work should be carried in medical laboratories and not necessarily in the basic science research laboratory environment. The article presents various scientific approaches that can be adopted while planning the work related to SARS-CoV-2 in a BSL-2 basic science research lab environment. This approach will allow simultaneously the health care and research personnel to develop a testing or research benchmark protocol in such a way that majority of the work can be accomplished under the BSL-2 laboratory conditions without having a need of a BSL-3 biocontainment facility environment.