2019-nCoV virus (Coronavirus) and Molecular Diagnostic Tools

Jun 1, 2020 | General Information

Quick and accurate diagnosis of an infectious disease like 2019-nCoV is critical to manage current and future outbreaks. As the number of people in China and elsewhere that are infected with the novel coronavirus (which is now called 2019-nCoV) grows, a great many labs and commercial entities in China, S. Korea, Europe and the US have ramped up their work developing molecular diagnostic test tools.

We don’t intend to delve deeply into the science and technology behind molecular diagnostic testing. But it is extremely important for the public to know something about molecular diagnostics which increasingly will be in the news and provide the keys to 2019-nCoV detection, diagnosis and treatment. Molecular diagnostics are the outcome of significant discoveries in the field of molecular genomic technologies.

In order to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV or any potentially lethal virus, nations and their health agencies need methods for accurate diagnosis and treatment for each individual case. The most promising diagnostic tests are those that can assess DNA variation. However, as clinical labs around the world know, many questions remain to be answered about reliable implementation and accuracy of these tests in clinical laboratories, especially when the number of people to be tested for 2019-nCoV in any country or location is enormous.

At a recent meeting in Seattle of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Bill Gates struck an ominous tone when discussing the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak as it outpaces the capabilities of modern medicine. At the same time, Gates expressed optimism about advances in science and technology aimed at making tools to do the diagnosis and provide vaccines and antivirals. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing more than $100 million into the development of simple-to-use, rapid, reliable molecular diagnostic testing tools.