What is it about?

When COVID-19 first struck, it was a novel disease, confusing to diagnose or treat. Clinicians were divided on how to go about its management. A 2020 paper attempted to help guide them. It summarized the main features of COVID-19. The focus was on diagnosis; various techniques were discussed in that respect. COVID-19 generally presents as a respiratory tract infection. Patients with a history of travel or contact with another infected person would further raise suspicion. The main signs and symptoms noticed among those with COVID-19 were: • Fever; • A dry cough; • Lack of energy; and • Shortness of breath. A loss of taste and smelling sense, joint and muscle pain, diarrhea, a lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and headaches were also reported among these patients. While most confirmed cases experienced mild or moderate disease, some faced a higher risk of becoming critical. These included people with comorbidities like: • Cardiovascular conditions; • Hypertension; • Diabetes; and • Cancer, among others. A low blood oxygen saturation and pressure indicated severe disease. Imaging techniques proved useful in the early diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia in patients. These included: • Chest x-rays; • Computed tomography (CT) scans; and • Lung ultrasounds. Another crucial aspect of managing the disease was its diagnosis. How could we know if someone was definitely infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19)? A few techniques came through in this respect. They could detect the virus, thus confirming a diagnosis of COVID-19. Among these, techniques that relied on identifying the virus's genetic sequence stood out. They were accurate, cheap, simple, and hence, counted as the gold standard. Viral isolation, electron microscopy, and biosensors could also aid diagnosis. Biosensors have another advantage: they require fewer lab and human resources to produce results.

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Why is it important?

COVID-19 is challenging to diagnose. This is mainly because it presents like many other respiratory infections. Adding to this was its novel nature, which means that the disease had no set diagnostic guidelines initially. In such a situation, this paper summarized what was already known about the disease and its diagnosis. This could aid those involved in disease management and control. KEY TAKEAWAY: Accurate and timely diagnosis of COVID-19 is critical. This helps treat patients and contain further spread of the virus. Reliable, convenient diagnostics are the need of the hour, and could aid disease control.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Clinical and Laboratory Diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2, the Virus Causing COVID-19, ACS Infectious Diseases, August 2020, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00274.
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