Evolution of RNA viruses from SARS to SARS-CoV-2 and diagnostic techniques for COVID-19: a review

Beni Suef Univ J Basic Appl Sci. 2021;10(1):60. doi: 10.1186/s43088-021-00150-7. Epub 2021 Oct 6.


Background: From the start of the twenty-first century up to the year 2021, RNA viruses are the main causative agents of the majority of the disease outbreaks the world has confronted. Recently published reviews on SARS-CoV-2 have mainly focused on its structure, development of the outbreak, relevant precautions, management trials and available therapies. However, in this review, we aim to explore the history, evolution of all coronaviruses and the associated viral outbreaks along with the diagnostics for COVID-19 in the twenty-first century.

Main body: We have focused on different RNA viruses' viz. SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, their classification, and the various disease outbreaks caused by them. In the subsequent section, the comparison of different RNA viruses affecting humans has been made based on the viral genome, structure, time of the outbreak, mode of spread, virulence, causative agents, and transmission. Due to the current mayhem caused by the rapidly emerging virus, special attention is given to SARS-CoV-2, its genome updates, and infectivity. Finally, the current diagnostic techniques such as nucleic acid testing (real time-polymerase chain reaction and loop-mediated isothermal amplification), CRISPR-based diagnostics (CRISPR based DETECTR assay, CRISPR based SHERLOCK test, AIOD-CRISPR, FELUDA, CREST), chest radiographs (computed tomography, X-ray), and serological tests (Lateral flow assay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, chemiluminescent immunoassay, neutralization assay, nano-sensors, blood test, viral sequencing) with their pros and cons, and future diagnostic prospective have been described.

Conclusions: The present gloomy scenario mandates clinical manifestations, contact tracing, and laboratory tests as important parameters that need to be taken into consideration to make the final diagnosis.

Keywords: COVID-19; Diagnostics; MERS; SARS; SARS-CoV-2; ssRNA viruses.

Publication types

  • Review