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Notes and Details on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Testing (COVID-19)

CDC Test Kits for COVID-19

Notes and Details on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Testing (COVID-19)

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2) is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA (+ssRNA) virus in the coronaviridae family, similar in sequence to the first SARS-CoV virus and bat Coronaviruses1.

The 2019-nCoV virus is a respiratory virus transmitted by respiratory droplets and is the cause of the ongoing 2019-2020 Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, now referred to as COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a laboratory Coronavirus test kit based on the full viral sequence published in January 20202. This test was initially available only for use in CDC laboratories. However, beginning in February 2020, CDC-qualified laboratories throughout the United States can test for the virus using the Coronavirus test kit.

CDC Protocol: Viral Testing Components for COVID-19

Starting with nucleic acid purification, the test follows a standard viral testing protocol. The provided primer and probe are combined with the sample and other standard components for amplification through real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Virus test kits are available through the International Reagent Resource (IRR) and are intended for use with the Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast DX Real-Time PCR Instrument with SDS 1.4 software3

To run the Coronavirus test, your lab will need supplies beyond the elements of the virus test kit provided by the CDC. Outlined below are the components necessary for compliance with protocol, some of which are standard laboratory supplies — such as disposable, powder-free gloves.

If any component is missing in your lab, you should secure it before requesting virus test kits to ensure total compliance.

Consumables: Reagents and Supplies for COVID-19 Testing:

rRT-PCR Primer/Probe Sets

Primer and probe sets are used during RT-PCR to make copies of nucleic acid. These sets are specific to the Coronavirus test and available from various companies.

Positive Template Control

A positive template control is specific for the virus test. This control is run during the rRT-PCR assay and should always give a positive result. These templates are often supplied with the specific primer/probe sets.

MIDSCI EasyScript Plus Reverse Transcriptase

This master mix is combined with the primer/probes and samples and run through the RT-PCR machine as part of the Coronavirus test. Designed to be used with both RNA and DNA amplification, the master mix contains thermostable MMLV reverse transcriptase, dNTPs, UNG, ROXTM dye and thermostable Fast DNA polymerase.

Molecular Grade Water, nuclease-free

This sterile distilled water is used to dilute reagents and samples used in the RT-PCR process.

Disposable Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves

Wearing powder-free gloves during molecular processes decreases the likelihood of sample contamination and is particularly important for this Coronavirus test.

P2/P10, P200 and P1000 Aerosol Barrier Tips

Various sterile pipette tip sizes are needed when dispensing reagents, transferring samples and mixing small volumes of liquids. Aerosol Barrier Tips with filters prevent aerosol contaminants from entering the tip.

Person wearing gloves holding a package of Prima graduated barrier pipette tips

Sterile, Nuclease-Free 1.5 mL Microcentrifuge Tubes

Reagents are placed in microcentrifuge tubes and gently mixed by micropipette. These tubes are spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the product at the bottom.

0.2 mL PCR Reaction Tube Strips or 96-well Real-Time PCR Reaction Plates and Optical 8-cap Strips

PCR reaction tube strips are strips of eight tubes designed for multiple-sample testing.

Well plates are used to efficiently test multiple specimens in one container along with a positive and negative control. Specific caps are needed to work with the optical PCR detection technology.

Laboratory Marking Pen

A good marking pen allows for easy tube identification and clear results. Do not mark on the tops of microcentrifuge tubes or PCR plate, as this can interfere with the optical detection operation.

Cooler Racks for 1.5 Microcentrifuge Tubes and 96-well 0.2 mL PCR Reaction Tubes

Cooler racks secure microcentrifuge tubes while reagents and samples are added.

Racks for 1.5 ml Microcentrifuge Tubes

Flipper racks are a convenient location for microcentrifuge tubes while combining reagents for testing.

Surface Decontaminant

Acceptable surface decontaminants for the COVID-19 test include:

  • DNAOUTTM DNA Removal Solution (MIDSCI 250 mL Spray Bottle cat # 786-24, 1 L refill cat # 786-75)
  • RNaseOUTTM (MIDSCI 250 mL Spray Bottle cat #: 786-70, 1 L refill cat # 786-71) 

Equipment Needed for the Coronavirus Test

In addition to consumables, your lab will need to create an environment conducive to controlling and completing the viral test. If your lab routinely conducts polymerase chain reactions, you are likely already positioned to comply with these environmental conditions. Otherwise, the following equipment is vital for successful participation in the Coronavirus test:4

PCR Workstation UV lamp, Laminar flow Class 100 HEPA filter

An appropriate laboratory setup should be created when following viral detection protocols. A PCR workstation with germicidal UV lamp and laminar flow minimizes contamination of nucleic acid samples. Multiple stations and areas can be set up to prevent cross-contamination.

A hand holding a MyGo Mini S qPCR Thermal Cycler

Vortex Mixer

A vortex mixer efficiently mixes small volumes of liquids. Variable speed models allow adjustment from a gentle shaking motion to high speed mixing.


A microcentrifuge uses a spinning mechanism to separate components in microcentrifuge tubes or PCR plates by mass. This results in a nucleic acid pellet at the bottom of the microcentrifuge tube.

Micropipettes (2 or 10µl, 200µl and 1000µl)

Micropipettes are adjustable calibrated instruments designed to be used with disposable sterile tips to transfer small quantities of liquid.

Six red Alphapette Pipettors

Multichannel Micropipettes (5 to 50µl)

Multichannel micropipettes are adjustable calibrated instruments designed to be used with disposable sterile tips to transfer multiple samples of small quantities of liquid at a time. These can be handheld or part of an automated system

2 x 96 well Cold Blocks

Cold blocks secure sample tubes and maintain a cool temperature while reagents and samples are added.

-20oC (non frost-free) and -70oC Lab Freezers; 4oC Refrigerator

Various temperatures are needed for sample and reagent storage in a lab freezer or refrigerator. In the nCoV protocol, three temperatures are specified for the viral test. Specimens can be stored at 4 oC for up to 72 hours after collection, but they should be stored at -70oC or lower if a delay in extraction is expected. Extracted nucleic acids should be stored at -70oC or lower.

Real-Time PCR Detection System

A real-time PCR detection system combines adjustable automated PCR cycling with optical detection technology. Associated software can make statistical analysis easier.

Nucleic Acid Extraction System

Nucleic acid extraction systems simplify the extraction process by providing a kit of reagents to quickly purify nucleic acid from various sources. Appropriate protocols are used to extract specific nucleic acid from tissue, whole blood or plasma. This can be a manual or automated process.

Notes on Lab Testing for COVID-19

Additional equipment or supplies may be required for viral testing in research laboratories.

Additional processes may be involved in viral testing, including propagating the virus in cell culture or embryonated chicken eggs. Equipment needed for cell culture includes:

Disposables will include:

No laboratory would be complete without the safety equipment and personal protective equipment appropriate for the biosafety level of the target virus. Universal precautions among all laboratory personnel are key to limiting the risk of infection and contamination. Designated separate areas for clean cell culture and viral cell culture growth should be maintained, and appropriate disposal methods made available.

MIDSCI Has the Scientific Research Supplies You Need

At MIDSCI, our mission is to empower scientists with innovative and quality products. In a time when our country has been confronted by the Coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever for scientists to have access to MIDSCI’s wide variety of lab equipment and research supplies from the industry’s leading brands. And for any questions or help with your order, MIDSCI’s customer service team will be there to help provide real-time answers.     

Founded in 1983, MIDSCI is a leading consultative partner for scientific researchers everywhere. MIDSCI offers a wide variety of lab equipment and scientific research supplies from the industry’s most respected brands. And to demonstrate our commitment to customer service, our phones are answered by REAL people who provide  real-time answers.  

Does your lab need help purchasing consumables or equipment for the CDC’s Coronavirus test? Contact us today to get started or to request a free product sample! Submit a request online, call us toll-free at (800) 227-9997 or send an email to  

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Disclaimer: Much of the content on contains data gathered by medical and scientific experts and should be considered for informational purposes only. Methods described and supplies listed in these articles may be dangerous and should only be handled by qualified professionals.

Under no circumstances shall MIDSCI or its affiliates, partners, suppliers, or licensors be liable for any indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages arising out of or in connection with your use of this information or products.  The limitations will apply even if the above stated information fails its essential purpose. 


1. 2019-nCoV. Virus Pathogen Resource. Updated Jan 31, 2020. Accessed February 10, 2020.

2. Patel A, Jernigan DB. Initial Public Health Response and Interim Clinical Guidance for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak — United States, December 31, 2019–February 4, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020; 69:140–146.

3. CDC Tests for 2019-nCoV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated February 5. 2020. Accessed February 10, 2020.

4. CDC Tests for 2019-nCoV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated February 5, 2020. Accessed February 6, 2020.

5. ATCC Virology Guide. 2016. Updated 2016. Accessed February 10, 2020. Guides/Virology_Guide.ashx

6. Gibco Cell Culture Basics Handbook. 2016. Updated 2016. Accessed February 10, 2020.

7. Brauer R, Chen P. Influenza virus propagation in embryonated chicken eggs. J Vis Exp. 2015;(97):52421. Published 2015 Mar 19. doi:10.3791/52421

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