[Clinical Chemistry] Molecular diagnosis of the COVID-19 strain

Clinical Chemistry, 31 January 2020

Daniel K W Chu, Yang Pan, Samuel M S Cheng, Kenrie P Y Hui, Pavithra Krishnan, Yingzhi Liu, Daisy Y M Ng, Carrie K C Wan, Peng Yang, Quanyi Wang, Malik Peiris, Leo L M Poon


  • Outbreaks in health care workers indicate human-to-human transmission. Molecular tests for rapid detection of this virus are urgently needed for the early identification of infected patients.
  • Two 1-step quantitative real-time reverse-transcription PCR assays to detect two different regions (ORF1b and N) of the viral genome.
  • Using RNA extracted from cells infected by the SARS coronavirus as a positive control, these assays were shown to have a dynamic range of at least seven orders of magnitude (2×10-4 -2000 TCID50/reaction). Using DNA plasmids as positive standards, the detection limits of these assays were found to be below 10 copies per reaction.
  • The established assays can achieve rapid detection of COVID-19 in human samples, thereby allowing early identification of patients.

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Podcast: Interview with Leo L.M. Poon on Molecular Detection of Novel Human Influenza H1N1


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