Korean J Intern Med.  2020 Jul;35(4):741-748. 10.3904/kjim.2020.257.

Current laboratory diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019

  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Eunpyeong St. Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan, China; it has since caused a pandemic, with more than 10,000 confirmed cases (> 800,000 tests) in Korea as of May 2020. Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is currently the most commonly used method for the diagnosis of COVID-19 worldwide. The Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine and Korea Centers for Disease Prevention and Control regularly update the guidelines for COVID-19 diagnosis. Emergency use authorization for some laboratory diagnostic kits has been granted, enabling the timely diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, and the isolation of infected patients. Due to the collective efforts of the government, medical professionals, local authorities, and the public, Korea’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been accepted widely as a model. Here, we summarize the currently available laboratory tests for COVID-19 diagnosis. Although RT-PCR tests are used widely to confirm COVID-19, antibody tests could provide information about immune responses to the virus.


COVID-19; Diagnosis; Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; Coronavirus; Serology
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