Testing for the Corona Virus There are two basic types of tests used to diagnose Corona virus.

By | March 14, 2020

Testing for the Corona Virus There are two basic types of tests used to diagnose Corona virus. -Molecular testing is the test we are all waiting for, because it diagnoses active/current infection and provides a diagnosis of Corona virus infection if it is positive. The term molecular means the test finds the geneticRNA molecules of the virus, the stuff of the virus itself. Its name is a mouthful, but you will hear the experts use it occasionally, and it is synonymous with the test: Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain testing. rRT-PCR for short. The test may be performed on many body samples, but currently specimens are being taken from the region of the nose. The “nasal swab” specimen then must be sent to particular labs equipped to do the actual testing. The entire process normally takes 3 days to provide results, but apparently laboratory processing has been automated such that now results take only 1 day from start to finish to provide the result. “Point of care testing” which is not available currently, would give the results in a significantly shorter time. Examples of point of care testing exist for influenza and streptococcal throat testing and provide results in just several minutes; other Real time testing is available for the diagnosis of Hepatitis B virus within 2 hours. -The second test available for diagnosing Corona virus is not relevant to the current situation or discussion because it diagnoses previous/remote infection that is already over and done with. Rather than using the RNA of Corona virus, it detects the body’s immune reaction by looking for the antibodies we produce in response to being infected by the virus. These antibodies are long lasting and are used to determine prior infection in all individuals, including those who may be unaware of having contracted the virus. So it is used to survey and investigate the extent of viral infection within the population as a whole. But, again not for diagnosis of current infection. This test is a 2 step process, similar to Lyme testing, where there is a screening test, which if positive is then tested by a second more labor intensive confirmatory test considered the “gold standard”. A positive test would therefore be positive to both the screening and confirmatory tests.

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