As the world was reeling from the onslaught of the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid 19 infection, scientists raced to develop the drugs to treat the various Covid 19 variants. Simultaneously and of the same importance, they worked double time for the tests that would allow early isolation of cases and their treatment.
Early access to Covid 19 tests spelled success in controlling the cases, decreasing the mortality rate, and premature easing of movement restrictions in many areas. Easing of movement restrictions allowed the opening of businesses and minimized the effect of the pandemic on the economy.
After almost three years, we are now at this point when Covid 19 home test kits are readily available over the counter. Additionally, testing centers abound to conduct more sensitive and thorough tests. We have come a long way compared to tests for other types of infections that have been around for a long time.
Types of Covid Tests
There are mainly two types of Covid tests.:
These are tests that detect the presence of the virus in an individual. Positive results mean the person is infected.
Antigen tests detect active infections by testing for the presence of fragments of protein specific to coronavirus. Manufacturers call them rapid tests because you can have the results in 15 minutes. Testing is easy; you can administer it using nasal (nasopharyngeal) swabs or saliva. Covid 19 test kits are available over the counter.
The appearance of double lines on the testing strip means positive for infection. However, Antigen Covid tests are more accurate in symptomatic cases and less precise in asymptomatic patients. Hence, false negative results are possible.
Here are some points to remember before doing it on yourself or somebody else:
- Read the instructions on the pack and follow them strictly.
- Make sure the area that you’re working on, as well as your hands, are clean and sanitized
- Wait for around 30 minutes after eating before doing the swab
- Be careful in handling the liquid to avoid spills
- Do not reuse the kit
Molecular tests include Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests to detect the virus’s genetic materials (RNA or DNA) even at the early stage of infection with or without symptoms.
PCR also uses nasal swabs, but unlike Covid 19 antigen tests, professionals do testing of the sample as it requires a PCR machine. As a result, it takes longer to test, but it is possible to have the effects within hours. However, it takes a day or more to get it most of the time.
PCR is considered an accurate and reliable test and is accepted worldwide.
Antibody tests, also known as serology tests, in Covid 19 management is the detection of antibodies in our bloodstream. These antibodies may come from past Covid infection or Covid vaccines.
Our immune systems produce antibodies or immunoglobulins to fight off disease-causing organisms our the body. Their presence allows the body to fend off infection, making the person resistant to specific diseases.
We do antibody tests to check the level of immunity of a person. It is not a test to determine if a person is infected. It is typically done if:
- You were infected previously, and you want to check if you are eligible to donate blood plasma to treat other cases.
- You want to confirm if the symptoms you had before were from Covid 19 infection.
Samples for the antibody test can be blood, serum, or plasma.
Covid 19, Here to Stay
Covid 19 is here to stay, most possibly in weakened forms like common colds and flu. We saw how it has weakened in time. We are also more equipped to handle it. The availability of these tests has proven to be life savers in many instances as they allow early detection, isolation, and treatment. It granted us better protection for our families and the vulnerable.
As we see the waning days of the Covid 19 pandemic, we continue to be cautious and alert for any possible resurgence. But, we cannot be complaisant. These tests will remain our friend as we ensure the pandemic continues on its way out.
For more information about Covid 19 and your requirements of high-quality, CLIA-waived, and FDA-approved Covid 19 tests, check us out at Ovus Medical.