Lots of information have been released on the internet concerning COVID-19 and its testing, and this has led to several people being misinformed and confused. There are still unanswered questions concerning the recent outbreak of COVID-19, its treatment and how to prevent being infected.
However, the presence of unreliable information has created a scenario where several people do not know much about COVID-19 and how to test for it.
Here in this article, we will be putting down some frequently asked questions and answers about COVID-19 and COVID-19 testing.
What are the Covid-19 testing methods?
There are two testing methods for COVID-19. There is the antigen test and the antibody test. Antigen tests are the kind of tests that check for the presence of the virus antigen or viral RNA. It is a very sensitive test type and uses PCR technologies.
This type of test is done in a lab, and samples for the test are taken from the nose or throat through a swab. If your test result comes out positive, it means you are infected with the virus. If it is negative instead, it simply means that you are not infected, or that you have just been recently infected and it has not multiplied in your body yet.
The antibody test is another type of test that tests for the presence of the virus in the body through the immune system. The sample required for this test is a sample of the blood of the patient, collected from the finger through a lancet. The blood sample is then dropped on one end of a cassette and dilution fluid added to it to help it flow along with the paper inside the cassette. If antibodies are present in the blood sample, they are seen in a line and develop a colour, which can be seen from a window in the cassette. For the test to be valid, three lines must form. One is the control line which is very important, and the remaining two are different antibody types called IgG and IgM.
What do the test results mean?
A positive antigen test result means that you have the virus or you are currently infected. On the other hand, a negative infection does not only mean that you are not infected. You can have a negative result if you have been previously infected and somehow free from the virus, or you can also have a negative result if you are just recently infected and that the virus has not been detected in your system yet.
A positive antibody test could be for either IgG or IgM or even both. Remember, when we mentioned that three lines appear during an antibody test, with the important one being the control line. The line for IgM shows an early stage of infection. If both lines for IgG and IgM appear, then it means that your infection is no longer in its early stages. If only the line for IgG is seen, you may have been cured at this point, but it simply shows that you have had a past infection.
A negative antibody test result means you are not infected, or you are in the very early stages of infection and that antibodies have not been produced or detected in your body. For an antigen test, it can only detect the virus if you have been infected for at least 7 days. Anything less than that and the virus cannot be picked or noticed. For antibody test, it is longer than that of the antigen test. If the patient has not been infected for that long, then your results can be a false negative result.
Can I carry out these tests on myself?
These test methods are only authorised to be done in the lab and not over-the-counter. Besides that, how many people would be willing to prick their finger with a lancet, add a buffer to the blood sample, wait for a while before interpreting the lines that will show up afterwards?
Is there anything positive that we can look forward to?
We certainly hope so. With the current testing methods, there are still high risks of having false-positive results or false-negative results. This still stems from the fact that there is little we know about the new strain of the coronavirus that caused COVID-19.
In future, we hope for a better knowledge of the virus, and better, more reliable testing methods that will not just tell you if you are infected or not, but will also tell you if you have any other disease, without the fear of a false positive test or false-negative test.
Do you wish to find a reliable lab where you can get a COVID-19 test in London? If you do, then book an appointment with us at Blood London.