After social distancing, and perhaps wearing masks in public, the next most crucial step in containing the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus is ramping up testing to identify and quarantine infected patients from passing the virus to others.
While one million tests sounds like a great accomplishment, it is far too few to make a meaningful impact.
As per the above Fox News article:
"Health experts say the U.S. should be testing 100,000 to 150,000 people per day to track and contain the virus. There are no official nationwide testing metrics, but private and public health labs currently report testing about 80,000 to 90,000 patients per day."
The bottleneck has to do with the way testing is conducted.
Currently available tests are a PCR diagnostic that involves reverse transcribing the viral RNA into DNA and then rapidly replicating the DNA strands to detect a signal that indicates the virus is present.
These tests are very cost intensive. They require a laboratory be equipped with a high-end thermal cycler as well as expensive reagents which must be kept cold for the duration of the test prep.
And that's what is needed for just a small batch of tests.
To scale up and achieve a testing rate adequate to start flattening the curve, tests need to be cheaper, easier to conduct and provide answers in minutes, not hours or days.
A sad anecdote: A local infectious disease specialist here in Baltimore shared that many of his patients have expired long before their test results came back positive.
The next wave of tests that show real promise for delivering fast and usable results are antibody tests which can identify the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 infection with a level of accuracy that is superior to PCR tests.
Not only can these help rapidly confirm a patient is ill with Coronavirus, as was noted in this recent ScienceMag article, they could also detect asymptomatic carriers who are unwittingly spreading the virus.
Stellar Scientific offers a finger-prick blood test that detects both IgG and IgM with a level of accuracy that approaches 98%.
Unlike PCR tests, these antibody tests can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 months.
These tests are made available for distribution as per Section IV.D of the FDA's Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019.
We welcome questions about the test. Give us a call 410-764-2225, reach out and chat with us or complete the form on the "Contact Us" page.
Test will be available for shipping about the second or third week of April.