Why not detect and identify SARS-CoV2 using Electron microscopy?

In summary, there is currently a RT-PCR test method used to detect SARS-CoV2 viruses, but it is not completely reliable. There has been a suggestion to use electron microscopy (EM) instead, but there are potential issues with this approach. EM may miss viruses due to small sample sizes and may not be able to distinguish Covid-19 from other coronaviruses. It also requires specialized equipment, sample preparation, and trained personnel. While EM has been used to verify PCR test results, full sequencing is another alternative. However, this method may also be costly and challenging due to the need for expensive equipment and trained experts. Additionally, there are concerns about accurately identifying viral particles using EM.
  • #1
mktsgm
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TL;DR Summary
While the question of the reliability of the RT-PCR test in the detection of SARS-CoV2 is real, why not we use any type of Electron microscopy in detecting the novel coronavirus?
We know the RT-PCR test method currently employed to detect SARS-CoV2 viruses from the sample is not 100% foolproof in detection.

If the current electron microscopy can reach a resolution of up to 50pm, why not use this time-tested technology in the detection of this virus?

Are there any issues in doing so?
 
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  • #2
Samples of blood samples might be fairly easy to do in large numbers, however...

Possible problems with using EM to screen patients:
  • Electron Microscopy (EM) looks at only very small samples, it might miss a virus even though it is very near by.
  • I'm not sure that Covid-19 is distinct enough from other corona viruses to be distinguished from them.
  • EM often requires sophisticated sample prep (time and labor).
  • EM requires special training.
  • EM's are often big, heavy, expensive machines requiring special set-ups.
 
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Likes pinball1970
  • #5
between running the machine, a technical sme to interpret the results, and a medical expert to interpret the sme's analysis, that sounds pretty expensive.
 

Related to Why not detect and identify SARS-CoV2 using Electron microscopy?

1. How does Electron microscopy work in detecting and identifying SARS-CoV2?

Electron microscopy works by using a beam of electrons to produce high-resolution images of biological samples. The sample is first placed in a vacuum and then bombarded with electrons, which interact with the atoms in the sample and produce an image based on the sample's density and structure.

2. Why is Electron microscopy not commonly used for detecting and identifying SARS-CoV2?

Electron microscopy requires specialized equipment and expertise, making it more time-consuming and expensive compared to other detection methods such as PCR. It also requires a high level of sample preparation and can only be used on fixed samples, making it less suitable for rapid diagnosis.

3. Can Electron microscopy accurately detect and identify SARS-CoV2?

Yes, Electron microscopy can accurately detect and identify SARS-CoV2. It has been used in research settings to visualize the virus and its components, such as the spike protein and viral particles. However, it may not be as sensitive as other methods, making it more suitable for confirmation rather than initial diagnosis.

4. What are the limitations of using Electron microscopy for detecting and identifying SARS-CoV2?

The main limitation of using Electron microscopy is its low sensitivity compared to other methods. It also requires specialized equipment and trained personnel, making it less accessible in resource-limited settings. Additionally, it can only detect and identify the virus in fixed samples, which may not be suitable for all types of samples.

5. Are there any advantages to using Electron microscopy for detecting and identifying SARS-CoV2?

One advantage of using Electron microscopy is its ability to provide high-resolution images of the virus, which can aid in understanding its structure and function. It also allows for the visualization of the virus in its native state, providing valuable information for vaccine and drug development. However, its use for routine diagnosis may be limited due to cost and time constraints.

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