Six million Americans have had COVID-19. Almost three-and-a-half million have recovered. Sixty-one thousand people have severe symptoms. Three thousand people out of one million in the United States have the disease. One hundred eighty-four thousand have died from the virus. One hundred and seven out of one million are dead from the disease.
There were fifteen thousand new cases yesterday. Nearly eighty million people have been tested. This equates to around two-hundred and forty thousand per one million Americans. How accurate is the testing?
This is where things get a bit confusing. The adage that you cannot have fast, cheap, and easy (or available) applies to the test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus testing. Fast testing is done by e25 Bio using saliva. A paper test strip is used and can give results in fifteen minutes. This test has not been approved by the FDA yet.
If this test was fast, cheap, and available to all Americans, would it matter how accurate it is? If it were 95% accurate, two tests would yield higher than 95% accuracy. If one of the two tests were negative, maybe a different type of test would be required to make a final decision whether the person has or does not have the virus.
A test like this could be given daily to school kids, family, workers, and nearly everyone attending any type of event. A queue can be set up with social distancing and by the time the person reached the final gate to enter school, work, or event, they would know if they were infectious. Keeping social distance from others would ensure their safety.
A false positive could give rise to further infection though! Maybe facial masks would still be required until better and more accurate daily testing could be achieved? Testing often with a slightly imperfect test that yields the most accurate results can be used more frequently than what is currently available.
The goal of testing is to identify those people who have the disease and to isolate them so that they cannot infect others around them. This can be done if the test is available in minutes, not days or weeks as some current testing provides. Many people can be infected while awaiting results.
The biotech company Quidel developed a ‘rapid’ virus test in July. Dozens of people were tested with this rapid test and were told they had the virus. Subsequent testing was done by the Vermont Department of Health found that only four out of sixty-five were really infected. These confirmation tests were done using the current ‘gold standard’ of testing for the SARS-CoV-2 – polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The results are not rapid! PCR test results can be done in one day, but typically take much longer.
There are three types of SARS-CoV-2 tests – genetic, antigen, and antibody. Viral RNA can be obtained from a nose/throat swab or saliva. Proteins from the surface of the virus can be analyzed by antigen testing. An infected person develops antibodies from his or her immune system. Antibody tests determine their presence.
Genetic testing uses the PCR test. PCR testing has shown up to twenty-nine percent error rate. Antigen testing can have results in less than 30 minutes but have higher false-negative results. Both these tests reveal whether the person has an active case of COVID-19. Once the person has recovered, then the antibody test is used.
False-negatives and false-positives are based more on the method of testing, storage of the samples, training of the people doing the tests, the equipment used, and the manufacturer of the test.
Faster results can be obtained by having more equipment and more trained personnel. Many tests could be batched together and tested and if a positive result is found, then all the individual tests in that batch could be tested. Regardless, the backlog of tests to be done is huge.
Central laboratory testing needs to be decentralized to local communities – hospitals, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, local laboratories, minilabs, schools, airports, restaurants, athletic events, hotel lobbies, libraries, etc. People would know before entering the facility if they were infected.
Columbia University Fertility Center in New York City has developed an RNA genetic test that yields results in thirty minutes. The initial test results appear highly accurate. This type of test could be done almost anywhere, including your home. FDA testing is proceeding.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com