With over a million lives lost, the COVID-19 pandemic has made a devastating impact on the world. As of writing, the death rate from total cases sits at 2.8%. This fact has put many things into perspective when it comes to managing the spread of the virus. One of the best ways to slow community spread is through contract tracing, and that can only be done effectively in conjunction with mass testing.
Many places have managed to flatten the curve, while others are experiencing second waves that are worse than the first. In both instances, mass testing is still the only tactic that could limit the spread, thus lowering the total amount of people infected and the risk of severe complications for those who contract the virus.
Why coronavirus mass testing must be our number one priority
Mass testing may seem like an expensive and overblown solution to the current problem, but it can significantly lower the virus’ opportunity to spread through infected people who may not be exhibiting symptoms. With a virus as contagious as COVID-19, outbreaks can occur quickly and it can be hard to pin down patient zero.
To get ahead of the virus, mass testing would give officials:
- The ability to quarantine family units that are infected.
- Prompt testing for those they came into contact with.
- More accurate ways to find new cases at a quicker pace.
- Better statistical data.
- Further opportunity to develop a vaccine.
Intensive testing is the only way to slow the virus, especially in areas where the population is dense and people social distancing practices are not strictly followed.
Why antibody tests are needed for COVID-19
The two main testing methods for the virus have been PCR and antibody tests. The PCR test can help keep outbreaks under control as well as give people the opportunity to return to normal daily life more easily. InfectoLab offers the initial PCR test to any and all health care providers in the United States.
Also available through your health care provider and InfectoLab is the antibody test. Blood serum is collected and tested to check whether or not the person has ever been infected with COVID-19, helping to pin down better data for further understanding of how the virus affects different people and how it spreads. The antibody tests can also help identify people who could act as plasma donors in the case of finding and treating the virus.
Although the PCR test can help in the short term, the antibody tests are of the utmost importance now that there have been over 27 million recovered cases.
What are the challenges of mass testing coronavirus?
By using InfectoLab’s PCR and antibody tests, health care providers across the country can order multiple tests for their patients to ensure that they are all receiving proper diagnosis and treatment. But when it comes to asymptomatic people, can testing be mandated?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Americans with Disabilities Act, forcing testing on an employee is against their core rights as an American. Employers are able to ask for temperature checks if someone is exhibiting symptoms or if there is reason to believe they may have the virus. Guidelines are expected to continuously change and develop along with the state of COVID-19’s spread throughout the country.
As it stands, though, testing has to be voluntary and cannot be forced upon anyone, even in situations where they are exhibiting symptoms. In that case, employers do have a right to deny entry to the workplace until a negative result is given and symptoms have ceased.
More challenges that could lead to problems with testing
Along with the basic rights of U.S. citizens and testing, there is also the instance in which mass testing could lead to an overwhelming amount of results in a short period of time. This could lead to false positives or negatives for many patients. A false negative result could be caused by human error, leaving someone free to spread the virus, whereas a false positive could lead to unnecessary treatment. By testing with InfectoLab, the accuracy of both the PCR and antibody is heightened and thus can help eliminate these challenges.
For some Americans, health care isn’t always readily available. According to one study, roughly 25% of Americans don’t have a primary care provider. This could pose a problem for those people who may need to get tested but don’t have access to a health care professional.
How to mass test for COVID-19
Mass testing for COVID-19 can be done using InfectoLab’s PCR and antibody tests, but they must be ordered by health care professionals and done so voluntarily by the patient. The turnaround time for tests with InfectoLab are 24–48 hours, which shortens the amount of time a patient has to wait for results as well as limiting their ability to unknowingly spread the virus.
The only way to ensure that testing is done on a mass scale is by encouraging people who exhibit symptoms, or have come into contact with someone exhibiting symptoms, to get tested, and making it easier to access a health care provider that can order a test. The more tests done, the more likely it is that control will be regained and transmission of the virus will slow throughout the country.
Featured image by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash