Pros and Cons of the Common Types of COVID-19 Tests

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 fast deployment of tests designed to detect infection. Many of those tests help clinicians and researchers accurately establish extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus chargeable for COVID-19.

And while these tests have been essential in identifying and tracking cases of 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, lots of which have their own different methods of administration and unique benefits:

Speedy, level-of-care diagnostic tests: These tests, which might be classified as either antigen or molecular tests, rely on a mucus pattern obtained from the throat or nose and is analyzed at a clinic or physician’s office. Results from these tests can often be available within minutes of analysis.
At-home collection tests: Tests carried out at house are only available by a health care provider’s prescription. These tests enable the affected person to self-accumulate a pattern in their residence and send it to a lab for analysis.
Saliva tests: These tests depend on samples from patients who spit right into a tube versus getting their throat or nostril swabbed. For some folks, saliva tests could also be more comfortable and also safer, particularly 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, such as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and antigen tests.

Getting a test for COVID-19 will be difficult for some people, especially considering the rapid evolution on testing guidance on testing options. While every test options its own limitations, molecular tests are perhaps the simplest strategies available.

Below is an outline of these completely different tests, including what they’ll do to identify the illness and their limitations.

RT-PCR
The RT-PCR is the most common test that is steadily used to detect the virus’s genetic material within the body. Utilizing this test, patients can know whether or not or not they have an active COVID-19 infection and can adjust their life-style accordingly (i.e., quarantine).

Pros
Minimally invasive – performed using nasal swabs, throat swabs and tests of saliva or different bodily fluids
Allows for social distancing – while some molecular tests, including RT-PCR, are generally performed at a hospital or clinic, swabs can also be taken from the affected person’s automotive or at home
Fewer false negatives in some cases – deep nasal swabs will have fewer false negatives compared with different tests, similar to throat swabs or saliva tests
Cons
Lengthy turnaround times – in some cases, RT-PCR tests can yield leads to the same day or within one to two days, but test outcomes taking up to one to 2 weeks have been reported in the course of the pandemic
False negatives – molecular tests have been shown to produce outcomes that say the patient doesn’t have the virus once they actually do; the rates of false-positives have ranged from 2% to 37%
Uncomfortable for some individuals – deep nasal swabs may be uncomfortable for some people, especially small children
Antigen Tests
Antigen tests, which are performed using a nasal or throat swab, help detect particular protein fragments residing on the surface of the virus. These tests function a high false-negative rate, nevertheless, leading to many clinicians ordering molecular testing for patients with negative antigen tests who display the traditional signs and signs of COVID-19.

Pros
Speedy outcomes: The test uses technology just like that utilized in a pregnancy test and yields results within minutes
Cons
Carried out at a hospital or clinic: At-dwelling antigen tests aren’t widely available, so patients typically should travel 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 proof suggesting rates as high as 50%
Antibody Tests
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 involves taking a pattern with a finger stick or blood draw.

It might take a number of days or weeks to develop antibodies after viral publicity, however these proteins typically stay within the blood for a number of weeks after recovery. Due to this fact, antibody tests show whether a person has had an an infection, making them not effective for diagnosing an active coronavirus infection. Likewise, there’s not sufficient enough evidence to suggest that the presence of these antibodies decide that the immune system is protected from future publicity to a coronavirus.

FDA Works Time beyond regulation to Approve Diagnostic Tests for COVID-19
The FDA has been working with several diagnostic companies, including LabCorp Diagnostics, to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 diagnostic tests that provide rapid results. Additionally, the FDA has issued coverage steering that gives regulatory flexibility to laboratories and commercial manufacturers that perform high-advancedity testing and create tests for the coronavirus.

More Testing Provides Higher Perception Into COVID-19
Worldwide deployment of efficient COVID-19 tests is essential for gaining elevated understanding in regards to the spread of the virus, which may play a role to find a way to cease it. Widescale adoption of antibody tests, while limiting in detecting an active infection, may additionally be useful for decide whether recovered patients have long-time period immunity from the virus.

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