Diagnostic Testing for the Novel Coronavirus | Infectious Diseases | JAMA | JAMA Network
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March 9, 2020

Diagnostic Testing for the Novel Coronavirus

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Association of Public Health Laboratories, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • 3Stanford Law School and the Center for Health Policy/Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA. 2020;323(15):1437-1438. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3864

Controversies over diagnostic testing have dominated US headlines about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the novel coronavirus responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Technical challenges with the first test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) left the nation with minimal diagnostic capacity during the first few weeks of the epidemic. The CDC also initially limited access to testing to a narrow group of individuals with known exposure. The delayed discovery of a case of COVID-19 in California, followed quickly by evidence of community transmission in multiple states, revealed the shortcomings of this strategy. In the early stages, COVID-19 has spread beyond the nation’s ability to detect it.