Testing for COVID-19 has taken many twists and turns over nearly the past two years. A new virus showed up on our doorstep, and we had no method to detect or combat it. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) molecular tests are used to detect genetic material from specific organisms, viruses included.
A COVID-19 PCR test was developed that could detect the presence of the pandemic virus at the time the test was given. However, there are many concerns scientists have had over the preceding months regarding the absolute accuracy of the COVID-19 PCR test.
When you are no longer infected, your body may contain broken fragments of the coronavirus that will yield a positive test for COVID-19 even though you are no longer infected. The PCR test has been designated the ‘gold standard for many other viral detections. However, the technology that amplifies the sample is a two-edged sword.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045416/ identifies several pitfalls of COVID-19 PCR testing. It is a tool but not the ultimate authority to claim a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2 or not positively. Other testing should complement it.
When To Test?
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/21462-covid-19-and-pcr-testing. Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, body and muscle aches, headaches, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, and other symptoms are common with COVID-19. I had a tickle in my throat for about a day that developed into a nagging cough. Initially, I associated my fatigue with the excessive use of Nyquil to tame the cough.
After a couple of days, it occurred to me that I might have COVID-19 (which I did just a couple of months ago). My wife and I searched for pharmacies to get a COVID-19 test, and all were out of testing supplies. We went to a couple of big box stores and pharmacies looking for home test kits, and they were sold out also. It delayed my test for one day.
That delay allowed major joint pain to confirm that I had COVID-19, and the evidence came less than 24 hours after we went to our local Urgent Care facility. We were tested for 26 different viruses and won the gold medal for SARS-CoV-2 (probably the Delta variant – it was prevalent when we became infected). Regeneron monoclonal antibodies were administered within hours after our test results, and we recovered very quickly.
Omicron Variant Symptoms
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/omicron-symptoms-covid-what-to-know-rcna9469. Omicron is a variant of COVID-19, and some symptoms are more prevalent with this variant than the Alpha, Beta, or Delta variants. The most reported symptoms are cough, fatigue, congestion, and runny nose.
Loss of smell and taste has not been confirmed as a primary symptom of Omicron. Age, health issues, vaccination status, and other factors can affect the number and severity of symptoms. Some early studies show that the Omicron variant is not as severe as earlier variants.
Lung damage is less damaging and more rapid. Infections appear to concentrate higher in the respiratory tract than earlier variants, where pneumonia left people short of breath. Omicron feels more like bronchitis with extra fatigue.
COVID-19 symptoms generally appear after five days to a week for most people. However, the Omicron variant has symptoms as early as three days.
Rapid Test Accuracy
https://www.businessinsider.com/false-negative-reasons-rapid-covid-test-may-show-bad-result-2021-12?fbclid=IwAR1BvkPxiQb6tTrs0K_PuE0jqjdDsugreCxly1ap5JxuVFXPcCenOtv5Bmc. Rapid testing is highly desirable. We all want to know now whether we are infected or not. However, a false rapid test result that indicates we are not infected could bring on many more infections with friends and family, especially over the next week or two.
The COVID-19 PCR test may take several days to yield results. Faster testing minimizes the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, not all rapid test kits detect the Omicron variant. Check Dr. Google before buying a rapid test kit to know the limitations of that kit. What may work well last week may not be in vogue this week.
Always check the expiration date. When you buy in bulk and stock up on COVID-19 rapid test kits, you might find that some have expired before using them. Some rapid test kits last only a few months before their expiration date is exceeded.
Temperature affects chemical reactions. A swimming pool is a perfect example. In the wintertime, you may need very little chlorine to control algae growth. Yet, during the summer, the pump must remain on longer to circulate pool water, and more chemicals are needed to maintain the pool’s chemical parameters. The same applies to rapid test kits.
Store your test kits as if they were batteries – in cooler locations. However, when using the test kits, ensure everything is at room temperature for several hours before opening the package. It will give your more accurate results.
Test kits may use a swab for the nasal passages or the throat. The food you ate could influence the test results. For example, coffee and soft drinks have exhibited false positives. Brushing your teeth or using mouth wash can also affect the results, which may be wrong. Allow at least one hour from eating, teeth brushing, mouthwashes, etc., before using any throat swabs. Read the directions before use. Some are also sensitive to smoking.
Rapid test kits were developed and distributed before the Omicron variant debuted. Test kit manufacturers are not offering positive advice about the accuracy of their test kits when the Omicron variant is dominant. Abbott BinaxNow and Quidel QuickVue have had success detecting the Omicron variant to date.
Testing is only as good as the person taking the test, the equipment used, and the procedures followed. In some cases, storage and transportation might also impact the accuracy of the results.
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