Rapid Antigen Test Drive, It has been more than a year since we first came across COVID-19 which not only disrupted the health of people around the world but also halted their economic and social activities. The whole world is in a state of distress. The virus itself is very dynamic and we need to go through the basics once again to get better clarity on the subject of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a new coronavirus strain that causes sickness. CO denotes corona, VI denotes virus, D is a disease, and 19 denotes the year in which a new strain of the virus was discovered. It was previously known as the ‘2019 novel coronavirus,’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ It is related to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) (SARS). When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the COVID-19 virus spreads mostly through nasal discharge or saliva droplets. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are all possible symptoms. Infection might lead to pneumonia or respiratory problems in extreme situations. These symptoms are similar to those of the flu or a typical cold. There are a few tests available in the market like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests which are accurate but take at least 24 hours to produce the results. These are quite expensive too. But there is another kind of test available in the market which is fast and affordable and it is known as Rapid Antigen Test.
Rapid antigen test (RAT) also known as rapid antigen detection test (RADT) or simply as ‘rapid test’ is, as the name suggests a ‘rapid’ diagnostic test that directly detects the presence or absence of an antigen. Nowadays it is used abundantly for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19. To better understand an antigen test, we first need to know what an antigen is. “Any substance which induces the immune system to produce antibodies against it is called an antigen.” Bacteria, viruses, toxins, chemicals, and pollens are some examples of antigens. Just like the name says, rapid antigen tests look for antigens and uses antibodies. An antigen test is easy, a medical professional collects a sample of mucus from the back of a person’s throat or nose using a swab, the swab is then dipped into a liquid to dissolve the mucus and to release the virus. Then after a thorough test, the result is produced. Over the last decade, an upsurge in the frequency of fungal infections can be seen mostly due to the AIDS/HIV epidemic and antigen tests are one of the best ways to detect the viruses. But the time the tests took to give the results was considerably longer than it is today. Antigen tests would take a minimum of 1 hour to produce the results. But since the spread of the COVID-19, a lot of reforms and upgrades has been done to the antigen test which now can produce test result within 15-20 mins. This has proven to be very helpful and effective during this global pandemic. New and modified antigen tests like Quidel Corporation’s, Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIA tests are very reliable. Although many times the results given by these antigen tests are incorrect but still it is much faster and cheaper than the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. It may be less accurate than a PCR test but still, it is not unreliable. According to a study by Dinnes J, Deeks JJ, and others, using summary results of SD Biosensor STANDARD Q, if 1000 people with symptoms had the antigen test, and 50(5%) of them really had Covid-19 then 53 people would test positive. Of these 9 people (17%) would not have COVID-19. 947 people would test negative. of these 6 people (0.6%) would actually have Covid-19. So overall the inaccuracy rates are not too concerning providing the fact that they are faster and more economical, keeping in mind the many people below the poverty line.
Lately, rapid antigen test kits are available in the market both for personal use and for medical use. The rapid Covid-19 antigen test kit is a point-of-care diagnostic test kit that quickly detects the presence or absence of an antigen in the body of a patient. It can assist to prevent future transmission by identifying positive cases early and enabling for speedier contact tracing. These kits are made by entities in the clinical equipment business that makes in-vitro fast symptomatic diagnostics. Results from the Rapid Covid-19 antigen test kit are usually available within a few hours. The research, design, and production of fast test kits are the key responsibilities of the companies involved in their manufacture. Furthermore, there are a number of advantages to using a rapid Covid-19 antigen test kit, including accuracy, low cost, quick results, early disease detection, and temperature stability. In the present COVID-19 pandemic, rapid Covid-19 antigen test kits are being employed. Many major biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies have developed their own quick Covid-19 antigen test kits, and many more are still contributing, studying, and developing better and more advanced test kits. In emergency clinics and centers, home consideration, diagnostic labs, and research foundations, rapid Covid-19 antigen test kits are used.
These kits are an ideal way for test drive programs, as they are cheap and mobile. These kits should be distributed vastly especially in areas where the cases are at their peak. This will ensure 0 contacts and will also reduce the delay time as people could easily take the test on their own. This would prove to be beneficial for people who are poor and can not afford kits. Stalls can be set up at proper distances where people can come and take a kit. Such an initiative will be very helpful to both curb the number of cases and to check the crowds at the testing facilities.