COVID-19 was first reported in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since been actively spreading around the world. Some people with COVID-19 may have few or even no symptoms, while others become severely ill and even die. In addition to the most common comorbidities such as pneumonia, and various respiratory illnesses that can progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome, other serious complications include the following:
- Cardiac disease, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and acute cardiac damage;
- Coagulation disorders, including thromboembolism and pulmonary embolism, disseminated intravascular clotting, hemorrhage, and arterial clot formation;
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (rare);
- Sepsis, shock, and multiple organ failure.
Diagnosis of COVID-19 is based on the presence of an influenza-like condition and molecular tests such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR). However, these tests can be false-positive or false-negative (up to 30%) and are not available in urgent situations where a result is urgently needed. In such cases, it is appropriate to resort to the use of a rapid antigen test.
When rapid tests should take precedence
People with suspected COVID-19 infection need to know quickly whether they are infected, so they can self-isolate, get treatment, and inform those in close contact. Currently, COVID-19 infection is confirmed by a laboratory test called RT-PCR, which uses special equipment and often takes at least 24 hours to get a result. Therefore, using FlowFlex rapid test will allow people to take the necessary steps more quickly, which can reduce the spread of COVID-19. This method of diagnosing the disease does not give a 100% accurate result but allows you to find out a person’s covid status in the shortest possible time – usually in 10-30 minutes.
Covid self-testing – is it available to everyone?
In addition to quick results, another advantage of using the rapid antigen test is its affordability. Everyone has the opportunity to purchase a budget Covid self-testing kit and self-report the presence/absence of the SARS-CoV-2 antigen at home. These tests are as easy to use as possible for the nonmedical worker and are sold at an affordable price. The antigen test detects the SARS-CoV-2 antigen in nasal or nasopharyngeal swab samples (depending on the type of test) and establishes a preliminary diagnosis of COVID-19. The antigen test is limited to the initial stage of the disease, up to 5-7 days after the onset of symptoms that are indicative of COVID-19, as this is when the virus multiplies intensively. In later stages, the concentration of the virus may decrease, and the tests may not detect its presence. Thus, a rapid antigen test can play a key role in the early detection and treatment of COVID-19.
Is it worth giving up PCR testing?
Some rapid antigen tests are accurate enough to replace the PCR test when used in people with symptoms. This becomes most useful when quick decisions about patient care are required, or when PCR testing is temporarily unavailable. Antigen tests may be most useful for identifying outbreaks or for screening people with COVID-19 symptoms, allowing for self-isolation or contact tracing and reducing the burden on laboratory services. However, PCR testing should still be used in further diagnosis, because people who test negative for the antigen may still be infected with the virus.