The corona virus' spread can be stopped if we test and isolate the infected, says the WHO. New, rapid tests must pave the way for identifying and breaking the chains of infection.
"We cannot stop this pandemic if we do not know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test all suspected cases." This is what the World Health Organization WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on 16 March.
Opinion dropped after several countries have changed strategy in the fight against coronavirus and have largely stopped testing and accommodating the sick part of the population instead to mitigate the spread of infection and treat seriously ill.
One of the reasons why few are examined for the disease is that a test response is both time and resource consuming. But a series of simple, quick test kits from, for example, the MIT company E25Bio and a number of other pharmaceutical companies in, for example, the United States , South Korea and Ireland, are being in use globally.
The current method for testing potential COVID-19 patients is called real-time PCR.
The test works by taking a mucus sample from the nose or throat with a swab. The sample is placed in small test tubes in a machine that copies the genetic material. If the sample contains the virus, the propagation process will reveal its presence.
But the PCR test lasts between two and 48 hours, a safe result requires good, cooled samples from the nose and throat, and the machines use rare raw materials, which are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.
In addition, there is a major problem in identifying who should be tested as many carry the disease without exhibiting symptoms.
The wave of new, fast test kits is built like an advanced pregnancy test and gives results in 10-20 minutes.
Instead of grafting, the small test kits use a drop of diluted blood, which drips down one end and travels through fine, branched vessels through the test cassette.
If the patient carries the virus, the blood sample will contain certain antibodies - Immunoglobulin M and Immunoglobulin G - which, through the test, react with particles covered with COVID-19 antigens.
The rapid tests will be especially useful in situations where the test subject is not yet showing symptoms.
Quick tests from the pharmaceutical company BioMedomics in the US have already been used in wide tests in China, but right now it is awaiting approval by the health authorities. This will enable them to be used as a clinical weapon to make the diagnosis quickly and easily.
According to the manufacturers, the rapid tests are 90 percent safe right now and are therefore not intended for home use, due to the risk of a false negative results. Initially, they should help ensure that frontline hospital staff and other key individuals are free of COVID-19.
This post was published on March 18, 2020 9:36 pm