Currently, the strain related to the pandemic poses a significant threat to people handling it outside of high-level research laboratories - it is therefore not available commercially for use in public test laboratories. In this case and like other outbreaks, such as SARS and EBOLA, the testing industry use a suitable surrogate to represent the target strain that would have representative results of a product's performance.
To test against coronavirus the independent testing
laboratory uses feline coronavirus as a surrogate organism, as it poses no risk to staff and shares a strong family design to the outbreak strain with only small differences in RNA. It's currently used in other EN methodologies and has been tested in ring trials, proving to provide reliable and repeatable results.
This allows the test teams to confirm that any result on feline coronavirus would be representative of the results achieved on the pandemic strain, if it was tested, and that they are repeatable by other laboratories.