Timely detection of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is one of the best strategies in controlling the spread of infection because identifying a current infection leads to effective contact tracing and quarantine. There are different types of tests available today for detecting the virus which includes reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, rapid antigen test, and antibody test.
The first two are appropriate for identifying an ongoing infection while the antibody test is best used for determining the rate of a population’s acquired protection from past infection in the form of antibodies detected in the bloodstream. This article will focus on RTPCR test and rapid antigen test as these two are the most commonly used methods now that the economy of countries worldwide are re-opening and uses aggressive testing to ensure that the infection rate stays low through active case-finding and proper quarantine protocols of the identified infected individuals.
Experts consider the RT-PCR test as the gold standard when it comes to the detection of the COVID-19 virus in the human body. This method involves swabbing of the throat or nasopharyngeal passages or both throat and nasopharyngeal passages and sending the specimen to a laboratory especially intended for running RTPCR testing which identifies the presence of the genetic material of the virus in the sample. Aside from RT-PCR, another way of detecting the COVID 19 virus is by antigen testing which detects the virus’ envelope or outer proteins in the patient’s saliva, the specimen used in rapid antigen testing kits.
This type of test also has a high accuracy rate, only slightly lower than the RT-PCR but just as reliable in identifying an ongoing infection. The rapid antigen test using saliva should be performed exactly as directed or with the guidance of a trained professional, and at the ideal time when the viral load in the body is expected to be high and greatly detectable such as 5 to 7 days after the last exposure.
The RT-PCR test may be the most accurate test to detect COVID-19, but the high accuracy plus the ease of using the saliva rapid antigen test may be the best method to initially detect the virus in many of the symptomatic suspects and close contacts of COVID positive patients. In order to further ensure the reliability of the antigen test, it should be done by trusted pioneers in the industry such as Vaccin8 Plus (vaccin8plus.com.au) in Australia and the result should be correlated with a physician’s evaluation of the patient’s signs and symptoms.
Also, an RT-PCR test can be done to confirm a positive result because the saliva rapid antigen test is 99% accurate in its negative results according to studies. The usefulness of the rapid antigen testing lies in how easy it will be to test little children and adults who are not comfortable with being swabbed in their throat and nasopharyngeal area, and on how the results can be obtained fast so proper quarantine can immediately be practiced.
The availability of this testing option will greatly help the case detection rate and speedy confinement of individuals who are positive for the virus. Companies like Vaccin8 Plus in Sydney serves both small and large corporations and schools in conducting saliva rapid antigen testing as mobile medical service provider. The workload of the frontline health workers who conduct the time-consuming RT-PCR swabbing will be lessened if more people are able to have an accurate rapid antigen test at the comfort of their own home, in their office, or in their doctor’s clinic.
The travel industry will also benefit from this test method in limiting the movement of people carrying the virus from one place to another. The economy will open soon and life will have to continue as it was pre-pandemic, but with safety precautions like regular testing and other COVID-19 health protocols. Indeed, rapid antigen testing may be the best method of COVID-19 virus routine monitoring in the new normal.