Covid 19 (Coronavirus) Testing
Coronaviruses are a group of infectious viruses with the recent outbreak being caused by a new type called Covid-19.
This virus is thought to be spread by droplets in the air when an infected persons coughs or sneezes. This strain of coronavirus is thought to have originated from Wuhan, China in December 2019. People infected by the virus may be symptomatic whilst many may have only very mild or no symptoms. The Covid-19 screening involves a consultation with a doctor followed by a specialist test to identify the presence of the virus.
Covid-19 is a specific type or strain of coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. The virus mainly affects the respiratory or breathing system. The majority of people that are infected will have very mild symptoms or remain asymptomatic. This virus can, however, cause severe illness in some people requiring hospital and intensive care treatment.
Symptoms of Covid-19 or Coronavirus
There are a number of commonly experienced symptoms which include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Unexplained loss of taste or smell
How can we prevent the spread of Coronavirus
There are a number of things that we can do to try a reduce the spread of Coronavirus, including:
- Staying at home – The current guidance is to stay at home and only leave for essential reasons such as essential shopping, exercise, medical needs and work if it cannot be done at home.
- Social distancing – It is recommended that we are over 2 metres away from anyone outside to minimise contact and risk of spread.
- Regular hand washing – Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face – Avoid contact with your face if your hands are not clean or not been washed.
- Cover your mouth or nose – It is advised to cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough.
- Use of face masks – There is some evidence to support the use of face masks to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19.
Covid 19 Testing
Covid-19 or coronavirus testing may be performed by two main methods. These methods of testing are antigen and antibody testing. Antigen tests are very specific but sensitivity may be dependent on timing and quality of sample. The RT-PCR test looks for viral RNA. The antibody test looks for antibodies produced in response to coronavirus. Immune response is variable so antibody tests may be unreliable and give inconsistent results. Antibodies take time to develop therefore the test may not show results until at least 2 weeks following infection with coronavirus.
Risk Factors for Covid-19
The outcome from Covid-19 is very variable between people. Those developing more serious complications from coronavirus appear to be elderly patients or those with pre-existing medical conditions. There are some studies that have shown vitamin deficiencies may also affect the outcomes of Covid-19. There have been studies undertaken to look at the effect of Vitamin C on improvement of outcomes in patients with coronavirus. There are also suggestions that patients with low vitamin D levels may be more susceptible to development of coronavirus. We can offer blood testing for Vitamin D levels and vitamin infusions and vitamin shots.
Covid-19 Antigen Test
The Covid-19 Antigen Test is used to detect virus RNA in patients. This is usually taken in patients symptoms and taken 1-5 days after the onset of symptoms. The detection of the SARS-CoV-2, an RNA virus, is performed using reverse-transcriptase PCR. The minimum sensitivity of 98% and specificity of 100% is reported by the laboratory we use. This test is performed by taking swabs from the nose and throat. There are limitations to the test and patients with low viral loads are less likely to be detected. The technique and adequacy of sampling is important in the results. When there is a strong suspicion of Covid-19 and the test is negative it is recommended to have a further test in 24-48 hours.
Covid-19 Antibody Test
The Covid-19 Antibody Test is used to detect antibodies. This test can tell if a person has previously been infected. Most patients that have recovered from Coronavirus will have produced some antibodies. We do not know if the presence of antibodies will be protected from future infections or how long the immunity may last. This test should be taken after 14 days from exposure or onset of symptoms. This IgG antibody test has been reported to have sensitivity of 97.5% and specificity of 100% by the laboratory. The test requires you to have a blood test that is sent to the laboratory for analysis. Results usually take 2-4 days.