Summary of the available molecular methods for detection of SARS-CoV-2 during the ongoing pandemic

Fabio Arena, Simona Pollini, Gian Maria Rossolini, Maurizio Margaglione

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an excess in morbidity and mortality rates worldwide. Containment strategies rely firstly on rapid and sensitive laboratory diagnosis, with molecular detection of the viral genome in respiratory samples being the gold standard. The reliability of diagnostic protocols could be affected by SARS-CoV-2 genetic variability. In fact, mutations occurring during SARS-CoV-2 genomic evolution can involve the regions targeted by the diagnostic probes. Following a review of the literature and an in silico analysis of the most recently described virus variants (including the UK B 1.1.7 and the South Africa 501Y.V2 variants), we conclude that the described genetic variability should have minimal or no effect on the sensitivity of existing diagnostic protocols for SARS-CoV-2 genome detection. However, given the continuous emergence of new variants, the situation should be monitored in the future, and protocols including multiple targets should be preferred.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1298
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2021


  • 501Y.V2 variant
  • B.1.1.7 variant
  • Coronaviridae
  • COVID-19
  • Diagnosis
  • Molecular methods
  • Pandemic
  • UK variant
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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