As of February 2021, COVID-19 has taken the lives of half a million Americans, and right now it doesn’t look like another wave is too far off. Since the pandemic isn’t slowing down and new mutations are making it easier for the virus to spread, there is a renewed urgency to use testing instruments and analysis to flatten the curve. Innovative testing kits from Trinity Medical Laboratories in Marlton, NJ include a new COVID-19 rapid test that is accurate, cost-effective, and convenient.
Rapid Test for COVID-19: How Soon Can You Get Results?
If you take a rapid test for COVID, you can get results within 15 to 45 minutes. These speedy tests are specifically designed to produce fast results to speed up any possible contact tracing efforts and to deliver faster results to patients so they can quarantine – or not – based on the results. As it stands, results that can be detected accurately within less than an hour are much more noteworthy than previous tests, which can sometimes take several days to produce results.
In fact, one of the main advantages of a COVID-19 rapid test is the fact that a patient can know whether they are positive or negative before ever leaving the testing facility. The quicker a patient knows, the more quickly they can alter their behavior and their plans to limit any contact that may increase the likelihood of spreading the virus. Fast results are especially vital when many people in a given area are testing positive for the virus.
What Does the Test Detect?
Specifically, this test is designed to detect two forms of antibodies that are associated with a viral infection. The IgM antibody is the one that peaks much more quickly and has a secondary peak later on, although these peaks are relatively small compared to the larger and slower peaks from the IgG antibody.
In particular, rapid tests tend to pay the most attention to IgM antibodies, since these are the antibodies that are most likely to be present during the early days of exposure and infection.
How Soon After Potential Exposure Can You Test Positive?
IgM antibodies can be detected within as little as three days after possible contact or exposure to a viral individual. IgM antibodies remain highly detectable during the first 10 to 15 days after exposure, which means that these antibodies are the ones that are present when a patient is likely in the pre-symptomatic stage.
Importantly, IgM antibodies are also present in asymptomatic people. Being able to detect antibodies in asymptomatic people is vital since the FDA suggests a significant portion of viral spread occurs when people are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. The ability to detect any indication of viral infection even when the patient does not feel ill is one of the best and easiest ways to make quarantine recommendations based on infection history.
How Is This Antibody Different From Other Antibodies?
The IgM antibody is different from the IgG antibody for a few reasons. For example, the peaks in antibody levels are much higher for IgG antibodies, particularly since the second peak during the secondary response phase can create double the amount of antibodies in the immune system. In contrast, both primary and secondary response IgM antibodies have relatively low levels, so even though they can be detected more quickly, inaccurate testing can also create false negatives.
The IgM antibody is also unique because it is primarily a temporary antibody that can disappear completely from the body one to two months following infection or exposure. There are other antibodies in the immune system that are permanent or that last for a much longer period of time, including IgG antibodies.
When Are Antibodies Most Active?
Antibodies reach peak activity levels when the immune system is detecting and preparing a defense for any viral exposure. Since it takes a few days for the body to identify viral exposure, it will also take a few days for some antibodies to be most active at their highest level.
For IgM antibodies, the highest activity during the primary response is about 10 days after exposure, while the highest activity during the primary response is within 20 to 25 days for the IgG antibodies.
What Do the Test Results Mean?
Importantly, it should be noted that rapid tests such as this one are designed to detect antibodies, not necessarily active infections in the person. To be clear, this means that this test does not discern whether the COVID-19 virus is present in the body. It does, however, determine the likelihood of exposure based on antibody activity.
For example, a positive result could mean the individual is recovering from exposure and may have been asymptomatic, but it will not confirm that the patient had the virus. Other testing may be able to detect the active virus within the body.
How Should the Results of This Test Be Interpreted?
There are a few ways the results of this test can be interpreted. This is because this test looks at the relative presence of both IgM and IgG antibodies in the blood. Depending on the combination of these antibodies and their levels, the interpretation of the results will be different. In general, the results of this test can be interpreted as follows:
- IgM positive and IgG positive is likely recent COVID-19 infection
- IgM positive and IgG negative is possible recent COVID-19 infection
- IgM negative and IgG positive is possible previous COVID-19 infection
- IgM negative and IgG negative is either possible infection or too early for testing
As with all testing, it’s important to verify false negatives and false positives. When both the IgM and IgG antibodies are negative, for example, this does not necessarily mean that the individual is not infected. However, it may be prudent to test the patient again in a few days to verify the negative test or to determine whether the negative result was attributed to the test being taken too early. The possible exposure time frame and any exhibited symptoms may also factor into whether or not someone with a negative result should test again.
Is This Test Accurate?
Yes, even though this test quickly produces results, the test itself is accurate. All lab testing carries the same statistical likelihood of producing false results. That said, this test is just as accurate as any other COVID-19 or viral testing, meaning it has achieved the CE and CFDA standards for testing accuracy.
This test is also designed to detect three COVID-19 antigens that are indicators of current or recent infection. These antigens include the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the SARS-CoV-2 RBD, and the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein.
What Samples Are Used for Testing?
Up until now, most COVID-19 testing has been done with nasal swabs to collect viral particles from the sinus cavity. However, since this test is specifically looking for antibodies and not active viral emissions, the medium of the samples are different. The best place to find active antibodies in the body is in the blood, so the samples used for this test are going to be blood samples.
It does not require a lot of blood to perform rapid tests such as this one. For example, a finger prick similar to the one a diabetic may make to check insulin levels will be enough blood to detect active antibodies. This test can also use whole blood samples, blood serum samples, or blood plasma samples to assess antibody levels and suggest infection likelihood.
When Should This Test Be Used?
This test should be used when there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in an epidemic area, which is to say that virtually all people who may have been in contact with an individual who has been infected can use this test.
This test can also be used for early assessments at fever clinics, pharmacies, urgent care centers, and other testing sites. This test can be used as part of a screening process at medical institutions or can be combined with nucleic-acid testing kits to provide further testing accuracy.
What Are the Advantages of This Test?
As indicated before, the main advantage of this test is the speed of the results and how quickly this test can detect active antibodies associated with the virus. There are other advantages of this test that are also worth consideration, such as:
This test is designed with anti-interference features that support test accuracy. Some of these anti-interference features make it unlikely to get false positives or false negatives from hemoglobin samples, bilirubin, and triglycerides. Anti-interference features enable testers to be confident about their results and to not worry about any possible cross-over from blood samples, particularly whole blood samples and finger pricks.
Instead of using a sample diluent for the test, a physiological diluent of .9% can be used without interfering with the results. Skipping the use of a sample diluent significantly decreases the cost of administering and interpreting results. The cost-effectiveness of this test is particularly important to those from smaller communities, including those who are lacking the necessary funding to test those within their jurisdiction.
Convenient and Effecient
This test is much more convenient than other tests. For example, there is no limit on where the test can be used, particularly if the testing sample you are taking is from a finger prick. There are no strict testing environments for this test, which means it can be administered by a qualified professional in various locations, even in mobile or outdoor testing clinics. The fact that this test can also be used for a range of blood-based samples also makes it a more efficient choice overall.
Why Is Testing Quickly and Often Important?
Testing often and quickly is the best way to perform contact tracing to keep the spread of the virus down to manageable levels. When testing is being done correctly and frequently enough, the risk of exposing asymptomatic people to the virus significantly decreases, which means the hospital capacity in local medical institutions will be less stressed.
Who Are Good Candidates for This Test?
Right now, almost everyone in America is a good candidate for this test, particularly those who are working outside of the home, those in medical settings, and those with compromised or weak immune systems. Good candidates for this test are specifically those who have been in recent contact with someone who was possibly COVID-19 positive.
Start Using Better Testing Methods Today
The best testing methods for COVID-19 are tests that are accurate and produce fast results. To learn more about our COVID-19 rapid test, please contact Trinity Medical Laboratories in Marlton, NJ today.