Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines on the Diagnosis of COVID-19 (June 2020) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract IDSA Disclaimer As of the time of this publication, updates have been made to IDSA’s Guidelines on the Diagnosis of COVID-19. For the most updated version of these guidelines, please go to Background Accurate molecular diagnostic tests are necessary for confirming a diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Direct detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleic acids in respiratory tract specimens informs patient, healthcare institution, and public health–level decision-making. The number of available SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid detection tests is rapidly increasing, as is the COVID-19 diagnostic literature. Thus, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) recognized a significant need for frequently updated systematic reviews of the literature to inform evidence-based best practice guidance. Objective The IDSA’s goal was to develop an evidence-based diagnostic guidelines to assist clinicians, clinical laboratorians, patients, and policy makers in decisions related to the optimal use of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification tests. In addition, the society provides a conceptual framework for understanding molecular diagnostic test performance, discusses the nuance of test result interpretation in a variety of practice settings, and highlights important unmet research needs in the COVID-19 diagnostic testing arena. Methods IDSA convened a multidisciplinary panel of infectious diseases clinicians, clinical microbiologists, and experts in systematic literature review to identify and prioritize clinical questions and outcomes related to the use of SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics. Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation methodology was used to assess the certainty of evidence and make testing recommendations. Results The panel agreed on 15 diagnostic recommendations. Conclusions Universal access to accurate SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid testing is critical for patient care, hospital infection prevention, and the public response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on the clinical performance of available tests is rapidly emerging, but the quality of evidence of the current literature is considered low to very low. Recognizing these limitations, the IDSA panel weighed available diagnostic evidence and recommends nucleic acid testing for all symptomatic individuals suspected of having COVID-19. In addition, testing is recommended for asymptomatic individuals who have had a known or suspected contact with a COVID-19 case. Testing asymptomatic individuals without known exposure is suggested when the results will impact isolation/quarantine/personal protective equipment usage decisions, dictate eligibility for surgery, or inform administration of immunosuppressive therapy. Ultimately, prioritization of testing will depend on institution-specific resources and the needs of different patient populations.


  • Hanson, Kimberly E
  • Caliendo, Angela M
  • Arias, Cesar A
  • Englund, Janet A
  • Lee, Mark J
  • Loeb, Mark
  • Patel, Robin
  • El Alayli, Abdallah
  • Kalot, Mohamad A
  • Falck-Ytter, Yngve
  • Lavergne, Valery
  • Morgan, Rebecca
  • Murad, M Hassan
  • Sultan, Shahnaz
  • Bhimraj, Adarsh
  • Mustafa, Reem Adel

publication date

  • June 27, 2024