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A Molecular Diagnostics breakthrough of PCR in COVID-19

by AhsanAli

PCR is considered as the gold standard in the detection of various pathogens thus in the case of COVID-19 RT-PCR is used for diagnostics.


COVID-19 outbreak was discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Accurate and reliable diagnostic procedures were required for the diagnosis of COVID-19. This was required to identify infection groups and contain the spread of infection.

PCR referred to as Polymerase Chain Reaction. It remains a gold standard diagnostic test for a variety of pathogens. For the detection of a novel coronavirus, PCR is considered to be the most reliable diagnostic test.

Reverse Transcriptase PCR

Reverse Transcriptase PCR used for the nuclear detection of RNA viruses. is used for the detection of novel coronavirus globally.

For doing the COVID-19 PCR sample is taken from the patient like throat swab, saliva, or stool sample.  Then the researchers isolate the nucleic acid from the samples. As it is an RNA virus reverse transcriptase PCR is used for the detection. Two genes can be identified in the coronavirus genome if both genes are present then the test results are positive if absent test results are negative.

Generally, samples are collected and sent to labs and detection takes a few days. But due to the need for rapid testing of COVID-19 FDA has authorized point of care diagnosis. These are made by a California based company called Cepheid that gives detection results in 45 minutes.


Mostly PCR gives accurate and reliable results but it cannot provide accurate results during early detection of COVID-19 when viral load is too small to detect. Thus according to a study conducted in china CT-Scan is considered a more reliable method of detection. CT-Scan is considered more sensitive in the case of novel coronavirus detection.

Reverse Transcriptase PCR remains the primary diagnosis method all over the world. However, some of the medical specialists utilize CT-Scan for achieving a faster diagnosis of COVID-19.

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