ROLE OF RAPID COVID-19 TESTING IN FIGHT AGAINST PANDEMIC

As the world is struck with COVID-19 pandemic, we face the challenge of lack of testing in our country. Testing remains a crucial step in controlling the spread of Covid-19.  Rapid testing is required to get a clearer picture of who is infected and thus needs to be immediately isolated to prevent the spread. Along with quick treatment of the infected people, early testing also helps to identify individuals in a complete community who came in contact with those infected people so that they can get treated too. Rapid testing will also reduce the load of testing on hospitals which are flooded with a lot of people seeking to get tested.

WHO SHOULD GET TESTED?

In accordance with the ICMR guidelines, if the patient experiences any one of the symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 like cough, cold, fever, tiredness, shortness of breath, headache, etc. it is advisable to get the Covid-19 test done. Covid-19 test is also important if the person has a history of recent travel. People who have recently been in the contact with the person who is/was Covid-19 positive should get tested immediately. Individuals who are engaged in activities such as social service and frequently leave their homes and interact with other people along with individuals who have recently attended social gatherings such as weddings , seminars and parties should get tested.  

WHAT TYPES OF TESTS ARE AVAILABLE?

Testing for Covid-19 has a remarkable value when it comes to trying to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. There are two broad categories of testing:

The RT-PCR test

The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test for the detection of genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 by collecting nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimens from individuals suspected of COVID-19. RT- PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Rapid antigen test (RAT)

Rapid antigen detection test (RADT) is a diagnostic test that is highly used for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the body by collecting nasopharyngeal swabs from individuals. It detects the presence or absence of an antigen (surface proteins); it is highly used as it provides highly confirmatory positive results.

HOW DOES RAPID COVID-19 TEST WORKS?

Rapid Covid-19 testing is bringing an alternate testing technology to combat Covid-19. A rapid Antigen test is a diagnostic test.  Rapid antigen tests detect antigens that are basically the proteins present on the surface of the virus, and can identify people who are infectious, when virus levels in the body are very high. It could be a game changer in the Covid-19 testing. Antigens are different from antibodies, which is a response to antigens produced by our immune system.

WHY CHOOSE RAPID ANTIGEN TEST?

The Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) plays a significant role in the pandamic.  Rapid  Covid-19  testing  can be a very useful testing procedure that can help us to curb the spread of infection at a higher rate. It proves to be a highly beneficial measure of testing due to a variety of reasons.

Rapid antigen detection test (RADT) is very useful for mass testing. This detection test could identify infectious individuals who could potentially spread the virus to other people. Antigen tests can be put in effect in vast numbers and screening could be done in population wide areas.

Compared to other molecular tests like RT-PCR test, Rapid Antigen Test doesn’t require use of complex equipment and machinery which makes it cost effective.Also, due to a simplified procedure of testing, it generates fast results in just within 30 minutes. Companies like SpiceHealth conducts Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in Delhi, starting from Rs.150/-.SpiceHealth conducts all the tests under strict medical supervision to provide safe testing experience at affordable pricing. 

It reduces the load of relying on just RT-PCR tests to identify Covid-19 patients. Molecular diagnosis like RT-PCR helps to detect even a very low concentration of virus at the time by amplification of DNA through PCR even when symptoms of the disease are not visible. Many companies do not have the resources and technologies to carry out the RT-PCR test as per the requirement. Thus, the Rapid Antigen test plays a very important role to supplement the testing capacity.

It can be implemented very quickly as it requires minimal training. Since an antigen test detects proteins on the surface of the virus called surface antigens, only nasal and throat swabs are used (mostly nasal), the samples are collected in liquid and this liquid is further added to a cartridge and then results are generated within a few minutes.  Since it is a point of care test, it can be done by non expert healthcare workers.

WHAT THE RESULTS OF RAPID COVID-19 TESTING INDICATES?

Although the RT- PCR tests methods are considered to be highly accurate, Antigen-based testing on the other hand helps to rapidly identify people who have high levels of virus. Thus, these tests are mostly reliable when people are in the early stages of Covid-19. For an Antigen test; the positive results are completely accurate. However in case of negative results in certain cases, it is often recommended that the rapid antigen test needs to be backed by RT-PCR to completely rule out the possibility of infection.

WHAT TO DO AFTER GETTING YOUR RESULTS?

If  your  Covid-19 testing results are positive, proper isolation protocols should be followed. One should stay at home and isolate from others, even if you receive a negative test result. Take the advice of your healthcare providers regarding this. Practicing all the preventive measures, such as   maintaining social distance, wearing masks, using alcohol based sanitizers , washing hands and face regularly etc are crucial to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.ROLE OF RAPID COVID-19 TESTING IN FIGHT AGAINST PANDEMIC