Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). To counter COVID-19 spreading, an infrastructure to provide rapid and thorough molecular diagnostics and serology testing is the cornerstone of outbreak and pandemic management. We hereby review the clinical insights with regard to using molecular tests and immunoassays in the context of COVID-19 management life cycle: the preventive phase, the preparedness phase, the response phase and the recovery phase. The spatial and temporal distribution of viral RNA, antigens and antibodies during human infection is summarized to provide a biological foundation for accurate detection of the disease. We shared the lessons learned and the obstacles encountered during real world high-volume screening programs. Clinical needs are discussed to identify existing technology gaps in these tests. Leverage technologies, such as engineered polymerases, isothermal amplification, and direct amplification from complex matrices may improve the productivity of current infrastructure, while emerging technologies like CRISPR diagnostics, visual end point detection, and PCR free methods for nucleic acid sensing may lead to at-home tests. The lessons learned, and innovations spurred from the COVID-19 pandemic could upgrade our global public health infrastructure to better combat potential outbreaks in the future.