When the world began testing for the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of individuals had been clamoring for mass testing. Unfortunately, despite all of the efforts made by the government, mass testing still seems impossible. Hence, the discovery of home testing kits made its way to help aid this necessity.
But with several home testing kits already developed, many question their legitimacy and accuracy. Is it worth taking? Can we trust the results? Is it the only way to be tested?
Two Ways to be Tested
It is essential to know that two types of tests can detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease. Here are as follows:
The reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction test, popularly called the RT-PCR test, is the most common diagnostic test available. It is also considered as the leading standard test in identifying any traces of viral infection. The test uses a collected sample from the patient’s nose (also called a swab test) to check for the virus.
Its main method is to detect and look for the virus’s genetic material (RNA) within a person’s system. If the genetic material of the virus is present, the conclusion will be that the patient is infected with it, and immediate isolation will be imposed.
The serological test is an antibody test, meaning it does not look for the virus itself but the person’s immune response against it. This test is performed by collecting a blood sample from suspected individuals through pricking the skin.
The blood sample will be tested, and if the test finds antibodies present in the blood, it means that the patient has been infected with the virus and has already created antibodies for it.
The serological test looks for the IgM (immunoglobulin–M), which is an antibody that usually appears after the first week of the infection. It also looks for the IgG (immunoglobulin–G) that generally appears two to four weeks after the infection.
This type of testing kit can produce results faster than the RT-PCR test. It can show results in less than an hour, unlike with the RT-PCR test that takes at least three days.
You can also choose to be tested at home by using COVID-19 IgM IgG rapid test detection kits, which are now legally produced and distributed. Twelve companies received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA, making these testing kits available in the market.
Test Accuracy Between the Two is Crucial
When we talk about the RT-PCR test, it technically has a higher accuracy rate when compared to a serological test. The RT-PCR test accuracy rates are approximately around 80% when it comes to accuracy since elements like the method of sample collection, handling of the specimen, and testing condition play a critical factor, making the accuracy suffer.
However, it still has a high percentage when it comes to sensitivity and specificity levels, which makes the results accurate and reliable most of the time. The only drawback of the RT-PCR test is that it requires days before getting the results, which agitates the patient more after being tested.
On the other hand, COVID-19 IgM IgG rapid test detection kits have an accuracy rate of approximately 70% due to some playing variables such as kits being developed by different manufacturers and laboratories, blood specimen collection, and the identification of the results.
A conducted survey dubbed as the COVID-19 Testing Project, which is run by physicians and researchers at different institutions, concluded that there are promising tests, while others need more thorough assessment and testing.
Even though there are already legalities that allow the development and the production of these testing kits by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), it is still recommended that these kits go through a more independent evaluation.
No Test is 100% Accurate
It is imperative to stress that no test, even ones done in laboratories, is 100% accurate. There is always room for error, even with multiple methods and processes done in the laboratories.
More importantly, if you are taking a home test kit, it is important not to rely heavily on the results. If you have been outside most of the time and want to be assured of your health, consider getting yourself checked with a physician and have a more elaborate medical test taken.
There are several things that we need to take into account before we say that a specific test is accurate. No test, even a medical one, is 100% accurate. There is no harm in taking a home test kit if you feel like doing it. But one thing to remember is not to rely on the results heavily. Conduct a self-assessment first and consult a physician if you doubt your results. There is no harm in taking precautionary measures as it pays to be vigilant, especially during these times.