COVID-19 diagnostic testing: Technology perspective

Clin Transl Med. 2020 Aug;10(4):e158. doi: 10.1002/ctm2.158.


The corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly contagious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). More than 18 million people were infected with a total of 0.7 million deaths in ∼188 countries. Controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is therefore inherently dependent on identifying and isolating infected individuals, especially since COVID-19 can result in little to no symptoms. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the different primary technologies used to test for COVID-19 infection, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each technology, and highlight the studies that have employed them. We also describe technologies that have the potential to accelerate SARS-CoV-2 detection in the future, including digital PCR, CRISPR, and microarray. Finally, remaining challenges in COVID-19 diagnostic testing are discussed, including (a) the lack of universal standards for diagnostic testing; (b) the identification of appropriate sample collection site(s); (c) the difficulty in performing large population screening; and (d) the limited understanding of SARS-COV-2 viral invasion, replication, and transmission.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-COV-2; diagnostic test; nucleic acid; serum.