Current Status of Laboratory Diagnosis for COVID-19: A Narrative Review

Infect Drug Resist. 2020 Aug 3;13:2657-2665. doi: 10.2147/IDR.S264020. eCollection 2020.


The outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the related disease (COVID-19) has spread rapidly to pandemic proportions, increasing the demands on healthcare systems for the containment and management of COVID-19. One of the critical issues to be addressed is the improvement in laboratory diagnosis and screening of large portions of the population to stop the virus spreading. Currently, the laboratory diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the related disease is based on the research of viral RNA with rt-PCR methods in upper and lower respiratory airways. Serological tests to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies could help physicians and healthcare workers to support COVID-19 diagnosis and follow-up and perform population screening. Our review, using MEDLINE and EMBASE, summarizes the current knowledge of direct and serological tests performed to research RNA, antigens, or antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, evaluating the advantages and drawbacks for specific tests.

Keywords: COVID-19; PCR; SARS-CoV-2; laboratory diagnosis; serological test.

Publication types

  • Review