COVID-19 Testing Kit: How Does It Work?
On February 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization officially named the pandemic terrorizing the world since December of the previous year. The Novel Coronavirus Disease of 2019 reportedly started in the Wuhan region of China. However, the true origin of the virus is yet unknown.
Some say it was due to China’s culture of eating exotic animals, particularly bats and snakes, while others formulated a conspiracy theory that the virus was a form of biowarfare. Nevertheless, many suffered under the wrath of the disease without having any chance to prepare at all.
Leaders worldwide quickly adapted to the mandated guidelines of the World Health Organization about the symptoms of COVID-19. Thus practicing social distancing is vital, all in the hopes that with this small yet effective preventive measure, the rate of people infected with the virus will decrease.
Aside from social distancing, governments worldwide are doing other measures to curb the spread of the disease. The development of testing kits aims to know who has been infected with the virus to quarantine them.
However, as different scientists continue to collect and analyze samples from potentially infected people, many are still wondering, how do COVID-19 Testing Kits work?
As of now, most organizations rely on two methods to test those who are potentially infected with Coronavirus Disease. One method is called the RT-PCR test, while the other measures the presence of antibodies in the blood.
RT-PCR stands for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction. During testing, samples are taken through a Nasopharyngeal Swab (Nose Swab), a Mouth Swab, or a Sputum sample from the person infected.
This method involves two steps: First, the reverse transcription or the conversion of the extracted RNA to DNA is executed. Next, it will produce an amplification reaction (sometimes called a polymerase chain reaction) when a strip of the extracted sample is compared to the RNA or the genetic code of the virus itself.
The comparison is possible since viruses usually have RNA strands, making the test with the extracted DNA easy. If there is a match between the two strips, identification can be quick since it is monitored with fluorescence (also called real-time PCR).
In simpler words, this method is performed by comparing the person’s genetic code to the genetic code of the virus. If a sufficient number of consecutive matches are present between the two different codes, it means that the person owning the swab sample has the virus.
This method is widely used and preferred compared to the other method because of the reliable instruments available. However, the incubation period of the virus in a person’s body should be considered when using this method.
In its first week, mouth, cheek, and throat samples can be used since the development of the virus is still within the throat’s perimeter. In its second week, medical personnel will obtain samples deep in the airways or using sputum samples, since, by this time, the virus will have already multiplied in the lungs.
The downfall of this method is it takes up too much time since the results can take a long time to produce, ranging after a few hours to two days maximum. It also requires a lot of work from laboratory personnel and the use of expensive equipment.
Since the previous method takes too much time to interpret and give a result, an antibody test only takes thirty minutes to render a result from a given sample. It is an ideal tool for mass testing. In line with that, it does not need keen supervision from laboratory personnel, nor does it require expensive equipment.
The antibody test method involves a purified antibody component of the virus placed in paper strips or test tubes, added with the diluted blood sample of a potentially infected person. If the two components become attracted to each other after some time, it means that they were infected with the virus.
This testing method is possible since the human body contains antibodies to help fend off diseases. However, these antibodies only function by binding with certain parts of a virus and does not help with the body’s defense against these diseases.
Since this method is seen as preferable when testing larger scales of the population, many organizations have developed antibody testing kits, such as a Coronavirus COVID-19 IGG IGM Test Kits for sale, which is free for the public to purchase and use.
Different governments worldwide have been exerting their time and effort to suppress the spread of the virus. The discovery of antiviral medicine or a vaccine for COVID-19 is crucial to the recovery of the lives affected and the world’s ailing economy. However, since there is no cure yet, we just have to rely on testing kits to detect people carrying the virus.