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TYPES OF COVID-19 TESTING EXPLAINED
1. Conventional Nasal Swab Test (Molecular)
Nasal swab tests take samples from the back of the throat leading some to characterize the experience as “being stabbed in the brain” and determine whether live coronavirus is present in the body.
The nasal swab extracts RNA, then you see if it matches the COVID RNA.
The average time to wait for results ranges from 3-7 days with some labs as far out as 10 days.
Molecular tests are highly accurate, but the global demand for them is so high that most medical clinics and hospitals simply do not have the quantity of swabs and transport tubes to do mass testing. (StarMed reserve these tests for patients with recent onset and/or high risk patients).
Abbott Labs now has a machine which will give a result in 15 minutes. It got FDA approval at the beginning of April and is now probably the most in-demand medical device on earth. With the capacity to manufacture only 400 machines a week we predict it will not be not be until summer or early fall that this test will be available for mass testing of our population.
StarMed has ordered an Abbott Machine and will notify our patients when available.
Covered by insurance 100% in most cases.
2. Rapid Antibody Serum Testing
Rapid IgM-IgG Combined Antibody Test for COVID-19 is a lateral flow immunoassay used to qualitatively detect IgG and IgM antibodies of the novel coronavirus in human serum, plasma or whole blood in vitro.
Antibody testing is less reliable than molecular testing due to in the early days of infection and symptoms the body is still building up its antibody production and might not be detected by the test.
Conversely, for those that test positive it doesn’t always mean that you have COVID-19 as it could indicate past or present infection with non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains, such as coronavirus HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E.
As of now we believe most insurers will not cover the cost of this test but believe that may change soon.
If you are tested before your body builds up the necessary antibodies to fight COVID-19 and you are tested only with the rapid antibody test, it is likely you will test negative. For this reason we feel it is absolutely imperative to provide combination testing, utilizing molecular PCR testing (nasal swab) for early infection, symptomatic, and high risk patients along with rapid antibody testing where it makes sense.
There are seven known corona viruses to effect human beings, one of which is COVID-19. Two others were SARS and MERS which were not highly prevalent in the US. The other four corona viruses are: 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1. Although there is seemingly no reliable prevalence data on these four, these strains are likely more common and could be reason for a false positive. Link to study
Emphasizing proper combination testing protocols along with appropriate patient education is a must at this time. StarMed utilizes both antibody and PCR tests when false negatives are more likely to occur. Better testing will be available to healthcare providers by the fall of 2020. Please take the time to educate yourself on all available test types. If you have any questions we will always be a resource for you and your family.