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Researchers develop first diagnostic test for novel coronavirus in China

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A joint press release by Charité and the DZIF

Coronaviren (kolorierte transmissionselektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme). Foto: Dr. Fred Murphy & Sylvia Whitfield/CDC
Coronaviren (kolorierte transmissionselektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme). Foto: Dr. Fred Murphy & Sylvia Whitfield/CDC

Researchers from the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have developed a new laboratory assay to detect the novel Chinese coronavirus. The assay protocol has now been published by WHO as a guideline for diagnostic detection. The new assay enables suspected cases to be tested quickly.

The coronavirus, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, and can cause severe pneumonia, can now be detected in the laboratory. Developed by a group of DZIF researchers working under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute of Virology on Campus Charité Mitte, the world’s first diagnostic test for the coronavirus has now been made publicly available. Following its online publication by the WHO, the test protocol will now serve as a guideline for laboratories. An international consortium is currently conducting a joint evaluation study.

“Now that this diagnostic test is widely available, I expect that it won’t be long before we are able to reliably diagnose suspected cases. This will also help scientists understand whether the virus is capable of spreading from human to human,” explains Prof. Drosten. He adds: “This is an important step in our fight against this new virus.”


Previous successes recorded by Prof. Drosten and his research groups include the development of novel Zika virus tests and the development of a standard test for the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) pathogen, which is now being used worldwide. A BIH Professor and one the co-discoverers of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus in 2003, Prof. Drosten was also responsible for developing and making available the first diagnostic test for SARS. The next few years will see members of the DZIF’s ‘Virus detection and preparedness’ group at Charité continue their efforts to increase our preparedness for the emergence of new viruses.


Test protocol made available by the WHO

Reference of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to the new test

Institute of Virology (CCM)

An interview with Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten (2017)



Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten

Scientific Director, Charité Center for Global HealthCharité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Postal address:Charitéplatz 110117 Berlin

Campus / internal address:Rahel-Hirsch-Weg 4

CCM, Rahel-Hirsch-Weg 4

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