The COVID-19 pandemic has elicited the need to analyse and store large amounts of infectious samples for laboratory diagnostics. Therefore, there has been a demand for sample storage buffers that effectively inactivate infectious viral particles while simultaneously preserving the viral RNA. Here, we present a storage buffer containing guanidine-hydrochloride that fulfils both requirements. Its ability to preserve RNA stability was confirmed by RT-qPCR, and virus-inactivating properties were tested by tissue culture infectious dose assay. Our data revealed that RNA from samples diluted in this storage buffer was efficiently preserved. Spiking samples with RNase A resulted in RNAse concentrations up to 100 ng/mL being efficiently inhibited, whereas spiking samples with infectious SARS-CoV-2 particles demonstrated rapid virus inactivation. In addition, our buffer demonstrated good compatibility with several commercially available RNA extraction platforms. The presented guanidine-hydrochloride-based storage buffer efficiently inactivates infectious SARS-CoV-2 particles and supports viral RNA stability, leading to a reduced infection risk during sample analysis and an increased period for follow-up analysis, such as sequencing for virus variants. Because the presented buffer is uncomplicated to manufacture and compatible with a variety of commercially available test systems, its application can support and improve SARS-CoV-2 laboratory diagnostics worldwide.
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