- Rapid testing is cheaper, faster than PCR testing; some fear test sensitivity is too low
- Recent studies show that test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for effective COVID-19 screening
- UME widespread rapid testing gains momentum as safe, reliable and more cost-effective alternative
As a trusted supplier of testing kits, United Medical Equipment (“UME”) is eager to provide assistance and support in the fight against COVID-19 as as research indicates effectiveness of rapid testing for COVID-19 screening (https://ibn.fm/eZoVI).
Governments have invested significant resources in scaling up testing capacity as a response to the pandemic outbreak. Because SARS-CoV-2 can spread from individuals with presymptomatic, symptomatic and asymptomatic infections, the containment of the virus and reopening of societies may be facilitated by robust population screening, for which testing is essential.
PCR testing is the current gold standard for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics. However, this type of test is not time effective for quick control of the virus’ spread. It can take several days between conducting the test and getting and acting on a result, leaving a window in which infection may spread. Efforts to reduce the time between testing and results prove essential for minimizing the transmission, but this is difficult to achieve with large-scale PCR testing.
This is where rapid tests step in. These rapid tests are an alternative that may contribute to better virus containment via more efficient detection and isolation of infected cases. However, some concerns are emerging that they may have lower sensitivity. As the sole screening mechanism for COVID-19 in real-time population management, PCR is not enough. Rapid antigen testing plays an integral, complementary role to PCR confirmatory testing. Regular testing with rapid results, multiple times a week, can greatly help prevent and control COVID outbreaks.
A recently published study explores the effectiveness of repeated population screening, taking into account test sensitivities, frequency and sample-to-answer reporting time. The findings indicate that the screening strategy’s effectiveness is mainly determined by the frequency of testing and speed of reporting. Effectiveness is only marginally improved by high test sensitivity. The study concludes that screening should prioritize accessibility, frequency and sample-to-answer time; analytical limits of detection should be secondary.
Rapid testing may thus prove indispensable in the public health response to the pandemic. Rapid tests are most suitable for frequent testing when the goal is to detect people with high viral shedding immediately before and after symptom onset. One of the main benefits of these tests is the ability to provide near-instantaneous results, avoiding delays related to PCR testing. Rapid testing facilitates the timely isolation of the most infectious individuals and their close contacts, thus helping contain the infection’s transmission.
With more states and countries embracing rapid testing as an essential part of their COVID-19 strategy, rapid testing kits will become an increasingly important element of the fight against the virus. UME is committed to being an essential part of this new COVID-19 landscape. The company is a trusted supplier of antibody and antigen test kits that address growing public health needs created by COVID-19.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.UnitedMedSolutions.com.
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