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Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus.
The tests could reveal the true extent of the outbreak and help separate the healthy from the sick. But some scientists have challenged their accuracy.
Hopes are hanging on two types of quick tests: antigen tests that use a nose or throat swab to look for the virus, and antibody tests that look in the blood for evidence someone had the virus and recovered. The tests are in short supply, and some of them are unreliable.
“The market has gone completely mad,” Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said Thursday, lamenting the l ack of face masks, personal protection equipment and rapid tests, “because everybody wants these products, and they want the good ones.”
The Spanish government on Thursday sent 9,000 rapid antigen tests that were deemed unreliable back to a manufacturer that, according to the Chinese government, had no license to sell them. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week called the rapid tests a “game changer” and said his government had ordered 3.5 million of them.
The U.K. hopes the tests will allow people who have had COVID-19 and recovered to go back to work, safe in the knowledge that they are immune, at least for now. That could ease the country’s economic lockdown and bring back health care workers who are being quarantined out of fears they may have the virus.
Many scientists have been cautious, saying it’s unclear if the rapid tests provide accurate results.
In the past few months, much of the testing has involved doctors sticking something akin to a long cotton swab deep into a patient’s nose or throat to retrieve cells that contain live virus. Lab scientists pull genetic material from the virus and make billions of copies to get enough for computers to detect the bug. Results sometimes take several days.
Rapid antigen tests have shorter swabs that patients can use themselves to gather specimens. They are akin to rapid flu tests, which can produce results in less than 15 minutes. They focus on antigens — parts of the surface of viruses that trigger an infected person’s body to start producing antibodies.
Health authorities in China, the United States and other countries have offered few details on the rates of false positive and false negative results on any coronavirus tests. Experts worry that the rapid tests may be significantly less reliable than the more time-consuming method.
Lower accuracy has been a concern with rapid flu tests. Spanish scientists said the rapid tests for coronavirus they reviewed were less than 30% accurate. The more established lab tests were about 84% accurate.
Those results “would prevent its routine introduction,” according to a report by the Spanish Society of Infectious Disease and Clinical Microbiology that triggered the alarms in Spain and spurred the government’s rejection of the 9,000 antigen tests.
Similar questions swirl around new antibody tests involving blood samples. Some versions have been described as finger-prick tests that can provide important information in minutes.
Antibody tests are most valuable as a way of seeing who has been infected in the recent past, who became immune to the disease and — if done on a wide scale — how widely an infection has spread in a community.
The antibody tests also will allow scientists to get a better understanding of how deadly coronavirus is to all people, because they will provide a better understanding of how many people were ever infected, ranging from those who never showed symptoms to those who became fatally ill. The results will also guide vaccine development.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. Most people recover.
More than 15 companies have notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that they have developed antibody tests, the agency said. The companies are permitted to begin distributing the tests to hospitals and doctors’ offices, provided they carry certain disclaimer statements, including: “This test has not been reviewed by the FDA.”
The prime minister’s spokesman was unable to say Thursday how much the U.K. had paid for the tests, which come from several suppliers, or whether the money would be refunded if they turned out to be unreliable.
The chief scientist at the World Health Organization said wider testing would allow health officials to pinpoint infections in people who appear healthy but may be carrying the virus.
“We know that if you really go out and test everyone in the community, you’re going to find people walking around with this virus in their nose who do not feel at all ill,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said in an interview.
WHO believes most transmissions of the virus occur through people who already show symptoms, but “the question is still open” about how asymptomatic people may spread infection, Swaminathan. (VOA)
Singer Rihanna was honoured by Prime Minister Mia Mottley at an event which marked Barbados's new status as a republic, which was attended by Prince Charles. Addressing the pop star by her real name, the PM said: "Robyn Rihanna Fenty tomorrow morning shall have conferred upon her the order of national hero of Barbados."
Rihanna was then summoned from her seat to accept the honor, with the Prime Minister managing to rouse a laugh from the singer when she referenced her 2012 hit 'Diamonds', reports femalefirst.co.uk. She added: "On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you, the designee, for the national hero of Barbados." "And to accept on behalf of a grateful nation - you can come my dear - ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty, may you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation." Rihanna, who was born in the St Michael parish of Barbados, found fame in 2005 after being spotted by a record producer and has since gone on to become one of the most successful female artists of all time with sales of over 250 million and recently reached billionaire status through her Fenty beauty brand.
The Prime Minister continued in her speech: "Commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence, her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. "Having satisfied that, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty has given service to Barbados which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attaining of the highest excellence to the Government of Barbados." It comes after a historic move for Barbados, which has become a republic after almost 400 years and welcomes its first president, Sandra Mason, after removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: National hero of Barbados, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Prince Charles, Barbado, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Rihanna)
By Manav Bhatia
It's that time of the year when there are festivities galore and entertaining comes to the fore. Manav Bhatia, Founder Trunkin shares some tablescapes for the season
Christmas Tablescapes: Whether it's cherry red tablecloths or plush green napkin rings, there's something for everyone. Red and green are synonymous with colour themes this time of year.
Red and green are synonymous with colour themes this time of year. | Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash
Finish it off with Royalty: Jewelled napkin rings are an essential table accessory. Jewelled beads in the centre of a napkin ring surrounded by metal carving can be combined in a variety of forms and sizes and gives a touch of glamour.
Jewelled napkin rings are an essential table accessory. | Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Touch of Smoke: Winter is the season when evening decor is especially important for parties, get-togethers, and bonfires. Colours in grey and ivory combine night with the day. Embroidered tablecloths, paired with lit glass votives, adds refinement to the evening.
Embroidered tablecloths, paired with lit glass votives, adds refinement to the evening. | Pxhere
Smearing of Wood: Nature's finish using ferns and drift wood for decor instead of flowers add to the winter feels.
Wall Hangings: Embroidered and beaded hangings add a touch of elegance and are traditional accessories for Christmas. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Wall Hangings, Wood, Winter, Smoke, Royalty, Christmas, Festivities, Perfect Setting)
Have you ever faced eye redness? Or have witnessed blurry or foggy vision? Or experiencing halos around lights? Or nausea and vomiting are very common for you. You may well be suffering from Glaucoma which needs immediate attention.
Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). Typically, it occurs in people with over the age of 60 however it can occur at any age. It is also estimated that globally 79.6 million people are affected with glaucoma, half of them being Asian population. While in India, around 11.9 million people suffer vision impairment and out of which 1.2 million cases are due to Glaucoma. It is a growing concern for the population in India. Even after these high numbers, the enormous majority remains undiagnosed, and untreated. More than 90 percent of cases of Glaucoma remain undiagnosed.
Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). | Wikimedia Commons
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the nerve of the eye. The increased pressure in the eye, which is known as intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve which is responsible for sending images to the brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years. According to WHO, there are different kinds of glaucoma, though, the two most common are, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), having a slow and slow and asymptomatic onset, and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG), which is less common, yet more acute. Hence, it is important for everybody over the age of 40 years to have a regular eye check-up.
The eye disorder may be treated with the help of eye drops prescribed by Ophthalmologist. There are various options available to lower intraocular pressure to the desired level. Depending upon the need of the patient, doctor may recommend combinations of eye drops, but it is of utmost importance to use the drops on a regular basis. However, consulting a specialist should be the first priority if diagnosed with glaucoma, but most of the population will first opt for home remedies then will consult chemists' shops for medicines and if the issue is still not resolved then will they think of a specialist. There is a need to modify the mindset of the people and when it comes to sensory organs zero negligence rule should be followed.
The eye disorder may be treated with the help of eye drops prescribed by Ophthalmologist. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Awareness is the key to managing Glaucoma better. The need of the hour is to include eye care as part of the health check-up. Timely detection of Glaucoma will lead to proper medication and diagnosis by an Ophthalmologist. Talking about prevention, early detection will help in managing glaucoma before significant damage occurs. Glaucoma can be because of genetics as well hence knowing the family's eye history is important. Regular and moderate exercise may help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure also eye drops can significantly reduce the risk that high pressure will progress to glaucoma.
Also, there are few home remedies that anyone can follow to avoid glaucoma. Consuming healthy food, using eyewear, avoiding head-down position, keeping oral hygienic, and protecting eyes from sunlight are a few of such remedies. One should be mindful of the fact that Glaucoma is irreversible blindness and awareness can help us in fighting it. Depending on the condition an Ophthalmologist may prescribe an oral medication or may suggest therapies. In severe conditions, doctors can also recommend surgeries like Laser therapy, Filtering surgery, Drainage tubes, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: eye disorder, eye, India, World Health Organisation, blindness , foggy vision, eye redness, Glaucoma, Ophthalmologist