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Table 3 Comparison between various diagnostic tests for COVID-19

From: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) – anatomic pathology perspective on current knowledge

Characteristics Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction Next-generation sequencing Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification technique CRISPR techniques (DETECTR technique using CRISPR-Cas12) Viral antigens detection Antibodies detection
Method Reverse transcription of RNA into cDNA strands, followed by amplification of specific regions of the cDNA Reverse transcription of RNA into cDNA strands, construction of NGS library after amplifying full length genes, and sequencing analysis Simultaneous reverse transcription and isothermal amplification at 37 degrees Celsius using a set of highly specific primers involved in annealing and synthesizing new strands, followed by appreciable color change to the naked eye that determines positivity Simultaneous reverse transcription and isothermal amplification using RT-LAMPcas-12 detection of predefined coronavirus sequences, and cleavage of a reporter molecule confirms detection of the virus Monoclonal antibodies detect viral antigens by immunoassay directly from the clinical specimens Uses clonal viral antigens to detect antibodies (IgA, IgM, and IgG) to SARS–CoV-2 from clinical specimens (such as blood or saliva)
Turn-around Time 6–24 h 24 h < 2 h < 2 h < 2 h < 2 h
Significance Highly specific and the test of choice Comparison between various strains involved in the evolution of this illness, useful in research and vaccine development Rapid, accurate, and relatively simple test with high specificity Rapid, accurate, and relatively simple with high specificity Rapid, simple, and potential future rapid test of choice Rapid, simple, and can detect past infection or immunity from the infection (screening test)
Drawback Complex technique, requires specialized laboratory and trained personnels Complex technique and requires more time Not quantitative Not quantitative Monoclonal antibody development in the laboratory is a time consuming and complex process Antibodies become significant days to weeks after development of symptoms; not suitable for acute disease and disease confirmation