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Coronavirus COVID-19 diagnostics – learnings from China

Coronavirus COVID-19 diagnostics – learnings from China

The COVID-19 outbreak poses challenges to diagnostic testing. A large number of patients needs to be screened to distinguish virus infected patients from healthy. Techniques widely used in virus detection are PCR and nucleotide sequencing. However, such methods can be both costly and time consuming. Additionally, sample collection is typically done by nasal swabs, which can be difficult to perform and inconvenient for the patient.

A complete blood count can help spot new coronavirus cases

For practical and efficient screening of large populations for viral infection, reports from China recommend including white blood cells (WBC) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in laboratory examinations for early monitoring of infection (1,2).

“Many factors contributed to developing our clinical algorithm in Wuhan during the early outbreak period”, Zhang and colleagues at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Union Hospital, Wuhan, China explain in an article in The Lancet (2). “During this time, the influx of patients to fever clinics substantially outweighed the number of physicians. Inpatient care was unsafe due to potential cross-infection and supplementary resources were not ready. Applying and waiting for results of a SARS-CoV-2 test was time consuming just after the outbreak and did not aid clinical decision making.”

A complete blood count (CBC), reporting also a WBC differential, can be a both rapid and cost-efficient tool for detection of viral infections (3).

Contributing to operator safety when handling infectious samples

Boule Swelab Alfa Plus Cap and Medonic M32C automated hematology analyzers are equipped with a Cap inlet for venous blood samples collected in capped tubes for operator safety. Additionally, these analyzer models are equipped with a micro-pipette adapter (MPA) inlet for capillary samples (20 μL). Capillary blood collection is easier on the patient and the small sample volume decreases the risk of contaminations from possibly infectious samples. Equipped with the MPA inlet for capillary samples, the analyzer reports a complete blood count including a 3-part WBC differential from a drop of blood in about one minute.

As reported from China, elevated CRP is also an important factor of the novel coronavirus disease and is recommended as a complement to the CBC test. Therefore, the combination of Boule Swelab Alfa Plus Cap and Medonic M32C hematology testing with CRP testing can provide a cost-efficient solution for near-patient diagnostic testing and be useful in screening of large populations for virus infections, while contributing to operator safety when handling infectious samples (4).

Learn more about how to ensure reliability and cost-efficiency in near-patient diagnostic testing.


  1. Lu, L. Interpretation of 7th edition of COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Lifotronic webinar: Diagnosis Guidelines for COVID-19, March 19, 2020.
  2. Zhang et al. Therapeutic and triage strategies for 2019 novel coronavirus disease in fever clinics. The lancet 8, Pe11-e12 (2020).
  3. Whitepaper: Hematology analyzers – 3-part or 5-part, that is the question. Boule Diagnostics, 31183, Edition 2 (2019).
  4. Whitepaper: Ensure reliability and cost-efficiency in near-patient diagnostic testing. Boule Diagnostics, 34832, Edition 1 (2019).
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