The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has positioned the world in a tailspin, which the healthcare trade has responded to in kind with the development and rapid deployment of tests designed to detect infection. Many of those tests assist clinicians and researchers accurately determine severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus accountable for COVID-19.
And while these tests have been essential in identifying and tracking cases of an infection and illness-associated morbidity and mortality, they aren’t without their potential drawbacks.
Types of COVID-19 Tests
A number of new strategies have been developed to diagnose COVID-19, many of which have their own alternative methods of administration and distinctive benefits:
Rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests: These tests, which can be classified as either antigen or molecular tests, rely on a mucus sample obtained from the throat or nostril and is analyzed at a clinic or physician’s office. Outcomes from these tests can usually be available within minutes of analysis.
At-residence collection tests: Tests performed at home are only available by a physician’s prescription. These tests enable the affected person to self-gather a sample in their house and send it to a lab for analysis.
Saliva tests: These tests rely on samples from sufferers who spit right into a tube versus getting their throat or nostril swabbed. For some people, saliva tests could also be more comfortable and also safer, especially for frontline healthcare workers.
Diagnostic Tests: Molecular vs Antigen Tests
There are two predominant types of COVID-19 tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests embody molecular tests, akin to reverse transcription polymerase chain response (RT-PCR) and antigen tests.
Getting a test for COVID-19 will be difficult for some people, especially considering the rapid evolution on testing steerage on testing options. While every test features its own limitations, molecular tests are maybe the most effective strategies available.
Under is an summary of these different tests, including what they will do to establish the disease and their limitations.
The RT-PCR is the most common test that’s frequently used to detect the virus’s genetic material within the body. Utilizing this test, sufferers can know whether or not or not they have an active COVID-19 an infection and can adjust their life-style accordingly (i.e., quarantine).
Minimally invasive – performed using nasal swabs, throat swabs and tests of saliva or different bodily fluids
Allows for social distancing – while some molecular tests, together with RT-PCR, are sometimes conducted at a hospital or clinic, swabs can be taken from the affected person’s car or at home
Fewer false negatives in some instances – deep nasal swabs will have fewer false negatives compared with different tests, reminiscent of throat swabs or saliva tests
Long turnaround times – in some instances, RT-PCR tests can yield results in the identical day or within one to two days, however test outcomes taking as much as one to two weeks have been reported during the pandemic
False negatives – molecular tests have been shown to produce results that say the affected person doesn’t have the virus when they truly do; the rates of false-positives have ranged from 2% to 37%
Uncomfortable for some individuals – deep nasal swabs will be uncomfortable for some individuals, particularly small children
Antigen tests, which are carried out utilizing a nasal or throat swab, assist detect specific protein fragments residing on the surface of the virus. These tests feature a high false-negative rate, nonetheless, resulting in many clinicians ordering molecular testing for sufferers with negative antigen tests who display the basic signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Speedy results: The test makes use of technology just like that used in a being pregnant test and yields outcomes within minutes
Carried out at a hospital or clinic: At-residence antigen tests aren’t widely available, so sufferers typically should journey to a hospital or clinic to have this test performed
High false-negative rate: Antigen tests produce higher false-negative rates than molecular RT-PCR tests, with some evidence suggesting rates as high as 50%
Antibody tests look for specific antibodies generated by the immune system in response to a virus, including SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies are proteins that the body produces to combat active invading viruses and active infections. This test can be known as a serological test, blood test and serology test and entails taking a pattern with a finger stick or blood draw.
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