Covid 19 rapid tests are a type of point-of-care testing in which you don’t send a sample to the lab rather the test can be performed anywhere. The rapid tests which detect the presence of the Sars Cov 2 virus, responsible for the Covid 19 pandemic, recognize the antigen present on the virus’s body and therefore are also known as rapid antigen tests.
Rapid antigen test kits were made and operated by the controversial Moonshot program of the UK, in which £100 billion was invested to test suitable techniques to detect Covid 19 infection. The European Commission recommended the use of rapid test technology for population-wide screening where the proportion of test positivity is high or very high.
By January 2021, the European Commission agreed to strengthen their position, advocating much greater use of rapid tests, noting that “should research prove that rapid antigen tests can be conducted by the testee themselves…. self-testing with or without professional guidance could also be considered.”
How do the Covid 19 rapid tests work?
So, the Covid 19 rapid kits are known as lateral flow test kits because the samples or analyte put in them flow laterally towards the antibody plane. In simple words, there are proteins over the virus called antigens. These antigens are specific for the particular species and the type of virus can be detected by studying these antigens.
Then there are proteins called antibodies which fight and bind to these antigens and protect your bodies from infections. These antibodies can also be prepared in the lab. So, in Covid 19 rapid tests near me, the samples are run through the antibody plane inside the test kit. If the sample contains antigens, they will bind to the antibodies and give a positive result.
A positive result means you have the Sars Cov 2 inside you.
Five benefits of Covid 19 rapid tests
1) Time: Covid 19 rapid tests are time-saving. The procurement and installing of samples don’t take much time. The results can be expected in 5 to 30 minutes. So, in places where you need rapid contact tracing and a high population is involved, rapid tests can be greatly fruitful.
2) Space: In places where a major outbreak has occurred and the population is dense, you can afford to set up many make-shift labs. The installation of RT-PCR requires subsidiary instrumentation and therefore cannot be installed in any and every corner of a dense city. Covid 19 rapid tests save time and space, they can be done in the individual’s home and do not require special spaces.
3) Safety: All flu is not Covid. However, you might catch the virus if you regularly visit hospitals without much safety. Any normal person who doesn’t know about the safety precautions shouldn’t visit hospitals. Covid 19 rapid tests help you in being safe by giving you the liberty of getting tested at your home. So, even if you don’t have the virus inside you but still have similar symptoms, you can still get tested without going to the hospital and risking another infection.
4) Community Spread: Covid 19 rapid tests help you in curbing community spread. As rapid testing kits give results within 30 mins so the individual can quarantine themselves right away. The time slab between an RT-PCR test and the result gives you the liberty of being uncertain and ‘negative’. Some individuals might roam around during this time slab and spread the virus.
5) Supplementing the testing: Large populations which cannot afford to use the RT-PCR test for each and every individual, have used the rapid antigen tests to supplement their testing. People with obvious symptoms contain high loads of the virus which can be easily detected by the rapid antigen kit. Therefore, rapid antigen kits have been a success in countries like India. Slovakia was the first country to test all its adult population for the virus, it was only possible because of the rapid antigen kit.
In conclusion, rapid antigen tests do not detect low virus loads, and can only detect high loads. You can only experience symptoms during the high load phase. Also, a low virus load doesn’t spread from one person to another.
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