Rethinking COVID-19 test sensitivity-a strategy for improving the detection limit

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Numerous genetic tests for the detection of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus, including those based on the ever-popular real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) technique, have been reported. These diagnostic tests give false negatives particularly during the early and late stages of COVID-19 clearly indicating inadequate test sensitivity. The entire COVID-19 diagnostic workflow is often overlooked and given very little attention. Herein, we propose that volumetric modifications to COVID-19 workflows would significantly improve detection limits. We would therefore encourage researchers to adopt a holistic approach, in which all the steps of a COVID-19 diagnostic workflow, are carefully scrutinised, particularly those upstream factors at the viral sampling and pre-analytical stages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number244
JournalPan African Medical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Diagnostic workflow
  • False negatives
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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