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

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has placed the world in a tailspin, which the healthcare trade has responded to in kind with the development and speedy deployment of tests designed to detect infection. Many of those tests assist clinicians and researchers accurately identify extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for COVID-19.

And while these tests have been essential in identifying and tracking cases of infection and illness-related 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 unique benefits:

Speedy, 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 nose and is analyzed at a clinic or physician’s office. Results from these tests can usually be available within minutes of analysis.
At-residence assortment tests: Tests performed at residence are only available by a doctor’s prescription. These tests allow the patient to self-gather a pattern in their home and ship it to a lab for analysis.
Saliva tests: These tests rely on samples from sufferers who spit into a tube versus getting their throat or nostril swabbed. For some people, saliva tests may be more comfortable and also safer, especially for frontline healthcare workers.
Diagnostic Tests: Molecular vs Antigen Tests
There are fundamental types of COVID-19 tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests embody molecular tests, reminiscent of reverse transcription polymerase chain response (RT-PCR) and antigen tests.

Getting a test for COVID-19 will be challenging for some folks, particularly considering the rapid evolution on testing steerage on testing options. While every test options its own limitations, molecular tests are maybe the simplest strategies available.

Beneath is an overview of those different tests, including what they’ll do to identify the disease and their limitations.

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

Pros
Minimally invasive – carried out using nasal swabs, throat swabs and tests of saliva or other bodily fluids
Allows for social distancing – while some molecular tests, including RT-PCR, are typically conducted at a hospital or clinic, swabs can also be taken from the affected person’s automobile or at dwelling
Fewer false negatives in some instances – deep nasal swabs can have fewer false negatives compared with other tests, akin to throat swabs or saliva tests
Cons
Long turnaround occasions – in some situations, RT-PCR tests can yield leads to the identical day or within one to 2 days, but test results taking up to one to 2 weeks have been reported through the pandemic
False negatives – molecular tests have been shown to produce outcomes that say the affected person doesn’t have the virus once they truly do; the rates of false-positives have ranged from 2% to 37%
Uncomfortable for some individuals – deep nasal swabs may be uncomfortable for some individuals, especially small children
Antigen Tests
Antigen tests, which are carried out using a nasal or throat swab, help detect specific protein fragments residing on the surface of the virus. These tests feature a high false-negative rate, however, resulting in many clinicians ordering molecular testing for patients with negative antigen tests who display the classic signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Pros
Speedy results: The test makes use of technology similar to that used in a pregnancy test and yields outcomes within minutes
Cons
Carried out at a hospital or clinic: At-dwelling antigen tests are usually not widely available, so sufferers typically have to 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
Antibody tests look for specific antibodies generated by the immune system in response to a virus, together with SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies are proteins that the body produces to fight active invading viruses and active infections. This test is also known as a serological test, blood test and serology test and involves taking a pattern with a finger stick or blood draw.

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