Can COVID-19 Test Results Arrive in Minutes? Scientists Answer This Question for You

Virus Test Results in Minutes? Scientists Question Accuracy and Doubt it

0
//
COVID-19 test
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. Pixabay

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.

COVID-19 test
Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests. Pixabay

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.

COVID-19 test
Patients wear personal protective equipment while maintaining social distancing as they wait in line for a COVID-19 test at Elmhurst Hospital Center. VOA

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.

Also Read- Here’s How the World Has Reacted to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Being Tested Positive for COVID-19

“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)

Next Story

Social Media: A Boon Amid Lockdown

Social media has proved itself a boon, be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life

0
social media
Social media has proved its worth in these times. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

There have been several incidents when social media has proved itself a boon; be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life. There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities.

‘My Pincode’ is one such group on Facebook that was launched by the NGO Social Media Matters in April when the entire country was confined in their houses. It is about local groups on Facebook to virtually connect, communicate, collaborate and create a support system for each other in their respective pincode areas. These groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points and organizations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support, relief, and share critical information.

Blood donation, ration supply, repair work, daily essential information, government advisories are the highlights of My Pincode as these demands top the charts across posts made by users. Partners like Sarvahitey, Akshay Patra Foundation, Blood Bank were fundamental in their roles to look into all the requests and take immediate action.

Shantanu Garg, who lives in West Delhi, posted on the group requesting for a blood donor on behalf of a friend. Within a few hours, moderators of the group who tagged all volunteers and other admins and started reaching out to other blood donor agencies were able to arrange the required amount of blood. There have also been other instances of such donor requests. Sajal Bhateja’s request for urgent requirement of blood on South Delhi Group was also addressed in two hours.

Social Media
There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities. Pixabay

Other topics that are being discussed on the groups are:

Which is the nearest clinic I can visit?

Where can I get emergency help?

What does the situation look like right now on the roads?

What are the queues like at the shops?

How much longer will supplies last?

Are courier services working in the area?

Which are the nearest Government and Private Testing Centres?

Can I visit the police stations?

Are postal services working in the area?

How do I obtain a curfew pass?

What is the situation at the hospitals?

Are there any blood donor requests?

In an attempt to bring together communities from 170 hotspots of India across 17 states (as identified by the Central Government of India in April 15, 2020) and crowdsource help, open groups have been formed and are being managed by moderators and group admins, trained by the NGO. It will be further extended to 32 states and union territories.

Social media
Social media groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points, and organizations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support. Pixabay

Each state has a moderator and several admins who have been moderating the discussions and letting users connect with each other for essential and verified information as to keep fake profiles/information away.

Also Read: Beat Summer Heat With these Coolers

Every day the lead moderators sift through all the groups to look for any inappropriate content that is posted/approved/queried. As soon as users post on the group, the network of admins gets activated and they look into the prime information or request made by the user. Once that is identified, the request is verified and then the network gets activated to resolve the request. (IANS)

Next Story

3 Live Coronaviruses Don’t Match COVID-19 in Wuhan Lab

Three strains of live coronaviruses in the Wuhan Institute of Virology don't match the virus that causes COVID-19

0
coronaviruses
None of the 3 live Coronaviruses in Wuhan lab matched the virus that causes COVID-19. Pixabay

There are three strains of live coronaviruses in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but none matches the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the director of the institute.

In an interview to state broadcaster CGTN aired on Saturday night, Wang Yanyi said that any suggestion that the SARS-CoV-2 leaked from her institute is “pure fabrication”.

After the COVID-19 outbreak started in Wuhan late last year and eventually became a global pandemic, the biosafety laboratory in China’s Hubei province has been in the eye of a storm as conspiracy theories suggesting the virus could have leaked from the lab started gaining traction.

Those were later even picked by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

However, Wang stressed that the “current consensus of the international academic community is that the virus originated from wild animals.”

She also underlined the need for global cooperation to find answers to questions such as where the viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2 are.

Coronaviruses
The world need to cooperate over this as there are many viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2. (Representational Image). Pixabay

“Now we have three strains of live viruses. One of them has the highest similarity, 96 per cent to the SARS virus. But their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8 per cent,” Wang told the broadcaster.

Also Read: Homecations: The New Way To Unwind This Summer Amid Lockdown

Over 5.3 million people in the world have so far tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 3,40,000 have died due to the pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Wang said that her institute first received the clinical sample of the unknown pneumonia on December 30 last year. Before that they did not know the virus even existed.

“After we checked the pathogen within the sample, we found it contained a new coronavirus, which is now called SARS-CoV-2. We didn’t have any knowledge before that, nor had we ever encountered, researched or kept the virus,” she said. (IANS)

Next Story

DMRC Uses Pictorial Messages to Spread Awareness on COVID-19

The campaign of pictorial awareness has been planned under the supervision of DMRC's Safety department

0
DMRC_Bombardier
DMRC spreads awareness among citizens about COVID-19 through pictorial messages. Wikimedia Commons

Amid lockdown 4.0 and halted service of the metro rail in the city, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is engaged in spreading awareness about COVID-19 disease at its construction sites through pictorial messages, according to Covid-19 pandemic in India updates.

In a press statement, the DMRC said, “Along with all conventional methods to raise awareness about this pertinent issue, a number of pictorial awareness messages have been painted at DMRC’s sites so that the workers keep getting reminded about the precautions while at work.”

The campaign has been planned under the supervision of DMRC’s Safety department.

The DMRC asserted that all relevant government guidelines and advisories have been taken into consideration while planning the content. Easy language and pictorials have been used so that the messages are satisfactorily conveyed.

The DMRC said that getting the messages painted was a major challenge as most of the painters, who are generally engaged for such assignments, were unavailable during the ongoing lockdown. As an alternative mechanism, printed banners in flex were installed at a number of locations. “While the messages are largely bilingual, a lot of focus has been laid on the use of Hindi as a lot of workers are more proficient in reading Hindi,” said the DMRC.

coronavirus DMRC
Painters were unavailable for making such messages because of the lockdown, said DMRC. (Representational Image). Pixabay

At present, the corporation is carrying out construction at about five to six different sites in the city including work sites of Dhansa, Airport Express Line expansion work in Dwarka as well as sites/casting yards for Phase 4 projects.

Also Read: Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

It said that all guidelines set by the government agencies are being implemented while resuming works and contractors and workers are being sensitised about the precautionary guidelines at the beginning of work during the tool workshops.

“Displays with the necessary information regarding social distancing have been installed at the sites. Masks, sanitizers and thermal scanners have been made available at the sites as well. DMRC’s engineers are keeping a very close eye at the sites to ensure all norms are followed,” it said. (IANS)