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There are currently two tests available for detecting Covid-19 virus which we know can cause a debilitating and potentially deadly pneumonia. The tests are: Gene detection- based  and Serology detection.

Gene detection- based testing is the current method of identifying the presence of the virus and is based on detecting genetic material found in a person's nose or throat. This is done by using a long flexible cotton swab to obtain a sample from one's throat or nose. This is then sent to an accredited lab where the test is performed. These tests can take minutes to days to get a result. A positive test means that a person is infected with the Covid-19 virus and is capable of transmitting the disease to others. A negative test shows that one is currently free of the virus.

 

Serology detection cannot confirm an active infection as can the above mentioned gene dection-based test. It can only tell whether or not one has been exposed at some time in the past or if one has never been exposed.

 Everyone who has had the disease creates antibodies to the virus. These antibody levels don’t vary by age, sex, or severity of symptoms. It has been suggested by researchers that it’s important to leave enough time, at least three weeks, between the easing of symptoms and the antibody test being done. It had been thought that the major benefit of this test was to determine whether a person has developed immunity and can safely return to work. However, as of this writing, recent information from the CDC says “Serologic testing should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace” and also not allowing “grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as in schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities”. In other words, because of apparent unreliable testing results, it is now questioned as to whether a person with a serology positive test, really has immunity to Covid-19. The CDC also suggests that some people may need to be tested twice for more accuracy.

The one big question which hopefully will be learned soon is how long immunity will last and how effective and long lasting the vaccine will be. The only way to know this is by following these patients over a period of time. In the meantime, although some people claim that mask wearing is not necessary and may even be counterproductive. I strongly suggest wearing masks when being around other people, which is more important for the masked person to not spread the disease than it is to help prevent one from getting the disease. Social distancing is still suggested as is frequent washing or sanitizing one’s hands. Keeping one’s hands and fingers off of the face (including the eyes) is also recommended.

Covid-19 is a disease that may be around for quite a while and will at least in the short run, change how we live and work.

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