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Coronavirus; COVID-19; Laboratory Medicine; Laboratory Test
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is still spreading worldwide, affecting several million people. Unlike the previous two coronavirus outbreaks, COVID-19 has caused several thousand deaths for respiratory and multiple organ failure. As specifically concerns this latest infectious pathology, laboratory medicine can provide a substantial contribution to diagnosing an acute severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection through molecular testing, establishing the presence and extent of an immune response against the virus, mostly through serological testing. However, it can also help to predict the risk of unfavorable disease progression by measuring some conventional laboratory tests and, last but not least, can provide reliable therapeutic guidance. This article is hence aimed at offering recent updates on the important role and value of laboratory investigations in COVID-19, also providing information on some hot topics such as virus RNA detection in different biological samples, causes of recurrent positivity of reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), potential strategies for enhancing the throughput of molecular testing (i.e., pre-test probability assessment, sample pooling, use of rapid tests), as well as pragmatic indications for enhancing the quality and value of serological testing and laboratory-based monitoring.
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