76. Speaking of tests

Friday August 7 2020

As of about now, there are three types of COVID-19 testing procedures approved by the CDC. Two detect if you actively have the virus and the third is an antibody test to show if you’ve had it and recovered.

Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel:

A molecular test to detect genetic material of the virus. Referred to as a PCR test because of the lab technique used. A more accurate test, but results take a long time to come back. If analyzed within minutes, it might return an inaccurate result.

SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid or antigen. Viral (nucleic acid or antigen) tests:

The antigen test detects proteins that are part of the virus and is what we hear called the “rapid’ test.”  It’s faster and less expensive than the molecular test, but also can be less accurate. Nasal swabs are used to determine whether an infection with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is present in the individual. Some tests results can be available at the testing site in less than an hour. Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze, a process that may take 1-2 days once received by the lab. Per the CDC, testing the same individual more than once in a 24-hour period is not recommended.

Antibody Test:

If you test positive for antibodies, it may mean you’ve had COVID-19 and your system has developed antibodies against another infection. Maybe. Or you might have had another coronavirus. Or you might still get another infection, despite the shiny new antibodies surging through body like little force fields, because we haven’t had enough time to pass to know how effective these little buggers are against COVID-19 nor for how long.

Testing negative after having COVID-19 symptoms means you’re still contagious. It takes a week or three to develop the antibodies. Or you may never develop antibodies. Either way, it’s possible you can still spread the virus.

According to the CDC, testing either positive or negative for antibodies doesn’t confirm whether you’re contagious or safe to go to that family birthday party.

Because we still don’t know how this novel virus works.

Just wear a mask and wash your hands, people. If the experts don’t know everything yet, the lot of us sure as heck don’t either.


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