Advances in Viral Diagnostic Technologies for Combating COVID-19 and Future Pandemics

Ninghao Zhu, Pak Kin Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) threatens the health of the global population and challenges our preparedness for pandemic threats. Previous outbreaks of coronaviruses and other viruses have suggested the importance of diagnostic technologies in fighting viral outbreaks. Nucleic acid detection techniques are the gold standard for detecting SARS-CoV-2. Viral antigen tests and serological tests that detect host antibodies have also been developed for studying the epidemiology of COVID-19 and estimating the population that may have immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Nevertheless, the availability, cost, and performance of existing viral diagnostic technologies limit their practicality, and novel approaches are required for improving our readiness for global pandemics. Here, we review the principles and limitations of major viral diagnostic technologies and highlight recent advances of molecular assays for COVID-19. In addition, we discuss emerging technologies, such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) systems, high-throughput sequencing, and single-cell and single-molecule analysis, for improving our ability to understand, trace, and contain viral outbreaks. The prospects of viral diagnostic technologies for combating future pandemic threats are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-521
Number of pages9
JournalSLAS Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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