Amid the worldwide SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak, medical providers have recently turned to rapid testing kits for detecting antibodies against the coronavirus. These serological tests are developed after studying the antibodies produced by the cells of people who have recovered from the virus. Here are four important things to know about COVID-19 rapid test kits.
1) COVID-19 test kits check for antibodies.
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, an antibody is "a protein component of the immune system that circulates in the blood, recognizes foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, and neutralizes them." In other words, antibodies act as fighters inside the body to battle against invaders that attack the immune system. Once the initial fight is over, the antibodies keep up the work to ensure that the immune system is safe from attack by the virus in the future.
The purpose of a rapid test kit is to identify whether or not a person has ever contracted the coronavirus and developed antibodies and immunity as a result. Scientists can then use this information to determine where the virus is spreading and even create a possible treatment for the disease. Most test kits boast user-friendly features, including the detection of two different kinds of antibodies (IgG and IgM), visual results, and room temperature storage.
2) Results are usually ready in less than ten minutes.
This is a big departure from other testing procedures that need samples sent to a lab to yield results one to two weeks later. Additionally, rapid test kits generally require just a drop of blood from the fingertip. This sample is mixed with a reagent and added to a test card, and the results will appear in a few minutes. The cartridge will show results in the following categories: Negative, IgM Positive, IgG Positive, IgM & IgG Positive, and Invalid.
3) The accuracy of COVID-19 rapid test kits is high.
While it's important to note that some people may never develop an antibody response and could still test negative on a COVID-19 rapid test while infected with the virus, the results from most tests are reliable. Before a COVID-19 test kit can be distributed for use with approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, test developers must provide clinical study data to validate the tests. The FDA requires the tests to show high accuracy by designing tests that prevent cross-reaction (false-positive results). Validation data can be found with each test manufacturer.
4) There are some disadvantages to rapid test kits.
COVID-19 rapid tests can produce fast and reliable results, but they do have some inherent drawbacks. The CDC says that it takes one to three weeks for antibodies to build up in the body after infection, so administering the test too early can be problematic and may require retesting later. The test can also foster a false sense of immunity, as testing positive for immunity doesn't necessarily mean that a person is immune from ever contracting the virus again in the future. People must still exercise caution even after receiving results from the test. It is best to make a diagnosis only after considering clinical symptoms along with test results.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to change, testing options for the virus evolve as well. A COVID-19 rapid test kit is one solution that can evaluate the spread of the virus and provide quick and unobtrusive results and antibody detection. Learn more about test kits by contacting companies like CureVoya.