IFCC Feed2020-04-01T01:02:11Z Insoft Feed Generator /ifcc-news/ IFCC Information Guide on COVID-19 - Monday 30 March updates2020-03-30T11:44:41Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-26-ifcc-information-guide-on-covid-19/ IFCC Office Updated: Monday, March 30, 2020




IFCC Information Guide on COVID-19


Coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated to COVID-19, is an emerging global pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As the number of individuals infected with COVID-19 continues to rise globally and healthcare systems become increasingly stressed, it is clear that the clinical laboratory will play an essential role in this crisis, contributing to patient screening, diagnosis, monitoring/treatment, as well as epidemiologic recovery/surveillance. This guide aims to organize relevant available information on laboratory screening, testing protocols, diagnosis, and other general information on COVID-19 for laboratory professionals, including links to helpful resources and interim guidelines. It will be continually updated as new guidelines and literature become available.







General Information:

Please find below links to helpful websites and guidelines that have been put together by laboratory and clinical specialists from all over the world:


American Association for Clinical Chemistry: COVID-19 Resources for Labs

British Medical Journal: COVID-19 Best Practice Guideline

Center for Disease Control: Information for Laboratories

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: COVID-19 Resources

The Scientist Magazine: Follow the Coronavirus Outbreak

World Health Organization: COVID-19 Technical Guidance for National Laboratories

Zhejiang University School of Medicine: Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment





Patient Screening

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guide for Global surveillance for COVID-19 caused by human infection with COVID-19 virus, there are two main factors to consider when screening patients for COVID-19: epidemiological history and clinical manifestation.

  1. Epidemiological History: within the last 14 days of symptom onset, the patient has a travel history or residence in a location with community transmission or contact with a probable or confirmed case.
  2. Clinical Manifestation: acute respiratory illness, which is characterized by fever and at least one respiratory sign/symptom, such as cough or shortness of breath.

Suspect cases are defined as:

  • A patient with acute respiratory illness AND epidemiological history


  • A patient with severe acute respiratory illness (characterized as described above AND requires hospitalization) AND no alternative diagnosis that fully explains the clinical signs/symptoms





Diagnostic Testing: Analytical and Clinical Aspects

Upon confirmation of a suspected case, specimens should be rapidly collected and tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 recommends collecting an upper respiratory specimen for initial diagnostic testing. The following specimens can be collected for swab-based testing: Nasopharyngeal specimen (preferred), Oropharyngeal specimen, Nasal mid-turbinate specimen and Anterior nares specimen. Lower respiratory tract specimen testing is also recommended by the CDC, if the specimens are available.




Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT)

Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) is the current gold standard for diagnosing suspected cases of COVID-19. rRT-PCR is a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) that detects unique sequences of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in respiratory tract specimens. The N, E, S, and RdRP are the viral genes currently targeted (WHO,  Laboratory testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in suspected human cases). A validated diagnostic workflow for detecting SARS-CoV-2 has been recently published by Corman and colleagues (PMID: 31992387), as follows: (a) First line screening: E gene, (b) Confirmatory screening: RdRP gene, and (c) Additional confirmatory screening: N gene.

The following table presents criteria for a case to be considered as laboratory-confirmed by validated NAAT assays according to the WHO:

In some cases, a negative result may be returned for a suspected case with high likelihood of COVID-19 infection. If the negative result was concluded based on only an upper respiratory tract specimen, a lower respiratory tract specimen should be subsequently tested. Additional specimens eligible for testing include blood and stool (WHO, Laboratory testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in suspected human cases).





Currently Available Diagnostic Assays

Several in-house and commercial assays are currently being developed and optimized. Links to currently available in-house protocols can be accessed below (available via WHO):

China CDC Primers and probes for detection 2019-nCoV (24 January 2020)

Diagnostic detection of Wuhan coronavirus 2019 by real-time RT-PCR – Charité, Berlin Germany (17 January 2020)

Detection of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in suspected human cases by RT-PCR – Hong Kong University (23 January 2020)

PCR and sequencing protocol for 2019-nCoV - Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand (Updated 28 January 2020)

PCR and sequencing protocols for 2019-nCoV- National Institute of Infectious Diseases Japan (24 January 2020)

US CDC Real-Time RT-PCR Panel for Detection 2019-Novel Coronavirus  (28 January 2020)

US CDC panel primer and probes– U.S. CDC, USA (28 January 2020)

Real-time RT-PCR assays for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 Institut Pasteur, Paris (2 March 2020)

There are a variety of pre-analytical and analytical issues that can affect diagnostic testing for COVID-19 infection. Some pre-analytical issues include improper collection, handling, transport and usage of swabs, as well as collection of inappropriate or inadequate material, interfering substances, and sample contamination. A common analytical issue is testing outside of the diagnostic window, in addition to active viral recombination and inadequately validated assays (Lippi et al, PMID: 31992387).




Additional Resources/Publications for COVID-19 Serological Testing & Viral Sequencing:

There has been much debate regarding the current value of serological testing in COVID-19 diagnosis and monitoring. Serologic based tests are not currently recommended by the CDC, NHS or other health organizations.  There is general concern regarding their use in the acute phase of infection as they detect infection too late in the course of illness (usually more than 7-10 days) and they also may cross-react with serologic responses to seasonal coronaviruses. However, there is anticipated value in using improved serological testing in the future for public and occupational health monitoring and assessment.

For serum antibody monitoring, according to the “Handbook of Covid-19 Prevention and Treatment” (Zhejiang University School of Medicine), serum lgM is detectable 10 days after symptom onset and lgG is detectable 12 days after symptom onset. A positive interpretation has been defined as a positive lgM, or an increased lgG titer > 4 times than that in the acute phase.

John Hopkin’s Center for Health Security: Serology Testing for COVID-19

WHO: Laboratory testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in suspected human cases

Li Z, Yi Y, Luo X, Xiong N, Liu Y, Li S, Sun R, Wang Y, Hu B, Chen W, Zhang Y. Development and Clinical Application of A Rapid IgM‐IgG Combined Antibody Test for SARS‐CoV‐2 Infection Diagnosis. Journal of medical virology. 2020 Feb 27. PMID: 32104917

Meyer B, Drosten C, Müller MA. Serological assays for emerging coronaviruses: challenges and pitfalls. Virus research. 2014 Dec 19;194:175-83. PMID: 24670324





Biosafety Guidelines for the Clinical Laboratory

It is of the utmost importance that proper biosafety guidelines are followed by clinical laboratories when handling samples from suspected COVID-19 patients. Interim guidelines from the World Health Organization on laboratory biosafety guidance related to coronavirus disease were updated on March 19th 2020. Excerpted highlights include:

  • All procedures must be performed based on risk assessment and only by personnel with demonstrated capability, in strict observance of any relevant protocols at all times
  • Initial processing (before inactivation) of all specimens should take place in a validated biological safety cabinet (BSC) or primary containment device
  • Non-propagative diagnostic laboratory work (for example, sequencing, nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT]) should be conducted at a facility using procedures equivalent to Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2)
  • Propagative work (for example, virus culture, isolation or neutralization assays) should be conducted at a containment laboratory with inward directional airflow (BSL-3)
  • Appropriate disinfectants with proven activity against enveloped viruses should be used (for example, hypochlorite [bleach], alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium compounds, and phenolic compounds)
  • Patient specimens from suspected or confirmed cases should be transported as UN3373, “Biological Substance Category B”





Additional biosafety guidelines/resources from other associations include:

Center for Disease Control: Biosafety Frequently Asked Questions

Health Canada: COVID-19 BioSafety Advisory

Public Health England: Safe handling and processing for COVID-19 samples in laboratories



Biochemical Monitoring of COVID-19 Patients:

The essential role of clinical laboratories in this pandemic extends beyond etiological diagnosis of COVID-19. Biochemical monitoring of COVID-19 patients through in vitro diagnostic testing is critical for assessing disease severity and progression as well as monitoring therapeutic intervention. Several common in vitro diagnostic tests have been implicated in unfavourable COVID-19 progression, potentially providing important prognostic information. A recommended test list based on current literature is included below along with the major laboratory abnormalities associated with adult COVID-19 patients and their potential clinical indications (1-10). In addition to more common laboratory tests, new evidence suggests that patients with severe COVID-19 could be at risk for cytokine storm syndrome. Cytokine tests, particularly IL-6, should be used where possible to assess severe patients suspected of hyperinflammation (7,9).

Importantly, unlike adults, the laboratory profile in severe COVID-19 pediatric patients is not clear and does not appear to be consistent with SARS. A recent publication recommends clinicians monitor lymphocyte count, c-reactive protein, and procalcitonin to assess severe infection. IL-6 should also be investigated as a potential pediatric prognostic indicator (2). 





Recommended Test List:

Laboratory Test

Main laboratory abnormalities observed in adult patients with unfavorable COVID-19 progression (Modified from 1-12)

Potential clinical and biological significance

(Modified from 3)

Complete blood count

Increased white blood cell

Increase neutrophil count

Decreased lymphocyte count

Decreased platelet count

Bacterial (super)infection

Bacterial (super)infection

Decreased immunological response to the virus

Consumption (disseminated) coagulopathy



Impairment of liver function

Lactate Dehydrogenase


Pulmonary injury and/or widespread organ damage

Alanine Aminotransferase


Liver injury and/or widespread organ damage

Aspartate aminotransferase


Liver injury and/or widespread organ damage

Total bilirubin


Liver injury



Kidney injury

Cardiac troponin


Cardiac injury



Activation of blood coagulation and/or disseminated coagulopathy

Prothrombin Time


Activation of blood coagulation and/or disseminated coagulopathy



Bacterial (super)infection

C-reactive protein


Severe viral infection/viremia/viral sepsis



Severe inflammation

Cytokines (IL-6)


Cytokine storm syndrome




Key Publications: 

    1. Fan BE, Chong VC, Chan SS, Lim GH, Lim KG, Tan GB, Mucheli SS, Kuperan P, Ong KH. Hematologic parameters in patients with COVID-19 infection. American journal of hematology. 2020 Mar 4. PMID: 32129508
    2. Henry BM, Lippi G, Plebani M. Laboratory abnormalities in children with novel coronavirus disease 2019. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM). 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32172227
    3. Lippi G, Plebani M. The critical role of laboratory medicine during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other viral outbreaks. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM). 2020 Mar 19. PMID: 32191623
    4. Lippi G, Plebani M. Laboratory abnormalities in patients with COVID-2019 infection. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM). 2020 Mar 3. PMID: 32119647
    5. Lippi G, Plebani M. Procalcitonin in patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a meta-analysis. Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry. 2020 Mar 4. PMID: 32145275
    6. Lippi G, Plebani M, Henry BM. Thrombocytopenia is associated with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections: A meta-analysis. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2020 Mar 13. PMID: 32178975
    7. Lippi G, Lavie CJ, Sanchis-Gomar F. Cardiac troponin I in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Evidence from a meta-analysis. Progress in cardiovascular diseases. 2020 Mar 10. PMID: 32169400
    8. Mehta P, McAuley DF, Brown M, Sanchez E, Tattersall RS, Manson JJ. COVID-19: consider cytokine storm syndromes and immunosuppression. The Lancet. 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32192578
    9. Rodriguez-Morales AJ, Cardona-Ospina JA, Gutiérrez-Ocampo E, Villamizar-Peña R, Holguin-Rivera Y, Escalera-Antezana JP, Alvarado-Arnez LE, Bonilla-Aldana DK, Franco-Paredes C, Henao-Martinez AF, Paniz-Mondolfi A. Clinical, laboratory and imaging features of COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2020 Mar 13:101623. PMID: 32179124
    10. Ruan Q, Yang K, Wang W, Jiang L, Song J. Clinical predictors of mortality due to COVID-19 based on an analysis of data of 150 patients from Wuhan, China. Intensive Care Medicine. 2020 Mar 3:1-3. PMID: 32125452
    11. Gao Y, Li T, Han M, Li X, Wu D, Xu Y, Zhu Y, Liu Y, Wang X, Wang L. Diagnostic Utility of Clinical Laboratory Data Determinations for Patients with the Severe COVID‐ Journal of Medical Virology. 2020 Mar 17. PMID: 32181911
    12. Zhou F, Yu T, Du R, Fan G, Liu Y, Liu Z, Xiang J, Wang Y, Song B, Gu X, Guan L. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. 2020 Mar 11. PMID: 32171076




Other Educational Materials & Webinars

Free Course on COVID-19 from AACC Learning Lab: AACC developed this content with leading scientists as part of AACC Learning Lab on NEJM Knowledge+. The free course covers COVID-19 transmission, complications, diagnosis, and more.

Free AACC Laboratory Pearl on COVID-19: The Pearl by Dr. Lippi reveals potential origins for the virus, how it attacks the body, it's symptoms, and associated laboratory abnormalities.

Free AACC Clinical Chemistry Podcast - Why Clinical Labs Are Essential to Containing COVID-19: Dr. Matthew Binnicker gives an update on the coronavirus outbreak and discusses what is needed to bring this global epidemic under control.

Free AACC Clinical Chemistry Podcast - Molecular Diagnosis of a Novel Coronavirus: Dr. Leo Poon of the University of Hong Kong gives expert insight into the 2019 novel coronavirus, and discusses the new molecular diagnostic assays his team has developed to detect and quantify this virus.

Springer Nature: Latest Research in COVID-19

New  England Journal of Medicine: Latest Research in COVID-19 – Journal Watch!

New Dates for the IFCC WorldLab Congress in Seoul – January 6-10, 20212020-03-23T10:31:13Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-18-new-dates-for-the-ifcc-worldlab-congress-in-seoul-january-6-10-2021/ IFCC Office On behalf of the IFCC Executive Board, we are delighted to inform you that the WorldLab Congress in Seoul has been rescheduled to January 6-10, 2021. The new dates were chosen based on the recommendation of the local organizing committee as well as congress and hotel space availability. Suitable space was not available during the fall of 2020.

We are looking forward to welcoming all our invited speakers, registered delegates, and exhibitors to this rescheduled conference in the beautiful city of Seoul. We also apologize for any inconvenience caused by rescheduling the conference and hope to see all of you at this important international event to celebrate the end of the COVID-19 epidemic! 

The Organizing Secretariat MZ Congressi will be contacting all parties involved (Speakers, Sponsors & Exhibitors, Delegates, Poster Presenters, and others) with further information.


Kind regards,

Professor Maurizio Ferrari, IFCC President

Professor Khosrow Adeli, IFCC President-Elect

eJIFCC Vol 31 n° 12020-03-23T10:31:06Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-20-ejifcc-vol-31-n-1/ IFCC Office  

eJIFCC Volume 31 no 1 - 2020

In this issue: Improving the preanalytical phase in laboratory medicine
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Click here to download a PDF of the full issue.
1 Improving the preanalytical phase in laboratory medicine
Gabriel Lima-Oliveira
2 Detection of haemolysis, a frequent preanalytical problem in the serum of newborns and adults
Judit Tóth, Anna V. Oláh, Tamás Petercsák, Tamás Kovács, János Kappelmayer
3 Rejection of hemolyzed samples can jeopardize patient safety
Lorenzo Barbato, Marise Danielle Campelo, Sara Pigozzo Nicola Realdon, Anna Gandini, Roberto Barbazza, Mayara Ladeira Coêlho, Chiara Bovo,Paola Marini, Gabriel Lima-Oliveira
4 Challenges in pre-analytical phase of laboratory medicine:rate of blood sample nonconformity in a tertiary care hospital
Nusrat Alavi, Sana Haseeb Khan, Asma Saadia, Tahir Naeem
5 Can chewing gum be another source of preanalytical variability in fasting outpatients?
Ricardas Stonys, Valdas Banys, Dalius Vitkus, Gabriel Lima-Oliveira
6 Sample management: stability of plasma and serum on different storage conditions
Carlos Fernando Yauli Flores, Ángela de las Mercedes Hurtado Pineda, Victoria Maritza Cevallos Bonilla, Klever Sáenz-Flor
7 Impact of chemical preservative in urine samples
Samuel Salazar-García, Eunice Lares-Villaseñor, Abraham Bárcenas-Morales, Juan Manuel Vargas-Morales
8 Pseudothrombocytopenia by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid can jeopardize patient safety — a case report
Cristina Collazo Abal, Leticia Rodríguez Calviño, Laura Rollán Manso, M.C. Ferreirós Domínguez, M.J. Lorenzo Lorenzo, Cristina Regojo Balboa, Arturo Fernández Nogueira
9 Causes of preanalytical interferences on laboratory immunoassays — a critical review
Beatrice Caruso, Chiara Bovo, Gian Cesare Guidi
10 Methods for hemolysis interference study in laboratory medicine — a critical review
Fernando Marques-Garcia


Announcement Regarding COVID-19 Mini-course2020-03-20T12:59:54Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-11-announcement-regarding-covid-19-mini-course/ IFCC Office  

To access the Course click on the link: https://area9lyceum.com/covid19_course/

To access the Pearl click on the link: https://www.aacc.org/clinical-chemistry-trainee-council/trainee-council-in-english/pearls-of-laboratory-medicine/2020/coronavirus-disease-2019

IFCC COLABIOCLI Regional Representative 2021-2023 Candidates2020-03-20T12:44:21Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-17-ifcc-colabiocli-regional-representative-2021-2023/ IFCC Office COLABIOCLI NOMINATIONS


The full details of each candidate’s nomination including a personal statement, are available here


IFCC eNews No 3 March 20202020-03-17T10:40:24Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-04-ifcc-enews-no-3-mar-2020/ IFCC Office

IFCC eNews: March 2020

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    • Message from the eNews editor
    • IFCC Developing Quality Competence in Medical Laboratories (DQCML)
    • The first course on basic cytometry in Cairo, Egypt
    • Activities carried out at WG-IANT 2014-2019
    • Welcome and thanks to Chairs
    • 3rd Conference of the Young Scientists Working Group (YS-WG SIBioC)
    • IFCC TF-YS: Mentorship Interview
    • IFCC TF-YS report at Asia-Pacific Congress of Clinical Biochemistry – APFCB 2019
    • Healthcare Quality Solutions – Ready your workforce for Quality
    • Six-month extension to apply for a 2020 Healthcare Excellence Team Award
    • Uplifting the medical lab cybersecurity
    • News from the Bolivian Society of Clinical Biochemistry (SOBOBIOCLI)
    • News from Turkey: the joint Congress of BCLF and TBS
    • News from France: LABAC
    • Georgian Medical Laboratory Association (GLMA)
    • Zhejiang Kuake Biotechnology Co., Ltd.
    • Labtronic


Postponement of the IFCC WorldLab Congress in Seoul to Fall 20202020-03-18T12:11:36Z /ifcc-news/2020-03-03-postponement-of-the-ifcc-worldlab-congress-in-seoul-to-fall-2020/ IFCC Office On behalf of the IFCC Executive Board to inform you that the WorldLab Congress in Seoul will be postponed due to the Coronavirus concerns and worldwide travel restrictions. A new date for the conference will be determined as soon as possible by the conference organizers, depending on the availability of the congress centre in Seoul. We are working closely with the local organizers and the PCO to select the most appropriate date and location for the congress. A formal announcement will be circulated as soon as a new date has been confirmed.

Kind regards,

Professor Maurizio Ferrari, IFCC President

Professor Khosrow Adeli, IFCC President-Elect

Diagnóstico in Vitro - Febrero 20202020-02-27T14:59:04Z /ifcc-news/2019-02-26-div-february-2020/ IFCC Office Auspiciado por la Federación Internacional de Química Clínica, "Diagnóstico in Vitro" es un nexo de unión entre los países Latinoamericanos, Portugal y España, que contribuye a difundir temas científicos a través de Internet, facilitando el conocimiento de publicaciones y temas de interés comunes a las ciencias del laboratorio clínico.

Número Febrero 2020

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Call for Nominations2020-03-03T06:50:47Z /ifcc-news/2020-02-19-ifcc-call-for-nominations/ IFCC Office =================

  • Education and Management Division
    • Committee on Proficiency Testing (C-PT): one member and one corporate member positions. Applications close on 26th February 2020.
    • Committee on Point of Care Testing (C-PoCT): one corporate member position. Applications close on 22nd March 2020.


    • Task Force on Ethics (TF-E): one member position. Applications close on 15th March 2020.


Applications for these positions should be submitted by IFCC members (National Societies or Corporate members). If you are interested, please refer to your National Representative or Corporate Representative for information on procedures for nominations. Find your representative HERE

For further information on the open Calls for Nominations, please visit the IFCC Call for Nominations page.


IFCC WG GCP Survey for Genomics in Oncology2020-02-26T13:46:31Z /ifcc-news/2020-02-10-wg-cgp-survey/ IFCC Office The WG-GCP goal is to determine what the most useful resources would be for those considering using genomics in oncology patient care.

We kindly ask you to forward below link and purpose of the survey to all your society colleagues so that the number of replies is significant.


Deadline to complete the survey is 30th March, 2020.

Completing the survey will require 5 to 7 minutes.

The privacy of individual respondents will be respected. 

For any further information please contact the IFCC office (colli-lanzi@ifcc.org).Thank you for your time and effort in completing this survey.