Thu. Oct 6th, 2022
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Transcript

Vismita Gupta-Smith

COVID-19 is being tested. That’s what we’ll be discussing in Science in 5 today. Hello, my name is Vismita Gupta-Smith, and this is WHO’s science conversation. Today, we’re speaking with Dr. Hanan Balkhy, who will explain COVID-19 testing. Hanan, thank you for coming.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy

Vismita, thank you so much. It’s great to be here with you today.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Hanan, there are a variety of examinations offered to the general public. Can you explain the various types of tests accessible to a person who says, “I think I need testing,” and how they should choose?

Dr. Hanan Balkhy

Thank you very much, Vismita. Yes, this is one of the most frequently asked questions. If I had to categorize testing, I’d say there are three types. The first is termed a NAAT test, N-A-A-T, and it determines whether the COVID virus genetic material exists. It’s the PCR testing that requires a nasal pharyngeal swab or a pharyngeal swab to be taken. After that, they seek for the virus’s genetic material.

The second sort of testing involves attempting to identify one of the viral shell’s exterior proteins, or envelope if you will. This is known as antigen testing. As a result, they attempt to detect the virus’s outer protein. The third type is to determine whether or not antibodies have developed within the human body. As a result, it seeks antibodies that are unique to the virus’s outer layer. As a result, it reveals whether the person has generated an immune response or developed immunity to that particular virus or to COVID. So those are the three major types of testing available.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Antigens and antibodies are terms we hear a lot, Hanan. Could you maybe explain in layman’s terms what you mean?

Dr. Hanan Balkhy

Simply put, Vismita, the antigens are the proteins that exist on the virus’s outer shell. As a result, it’s a component of the virus. The human body produces antibodies in response to such antigens. That is the simplest way to comprehend the two.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Hanan, tell us about the precision of these tests and the types of testing we can expect in the future.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy

The most sensitive tests are the PCR tests, which are also known as NAAT tests, and test the virus’s nucleic acid. And those, in fact, must be completed in a sophisticated laboratory setting in order to complete the testing procedure. As a result, the turnaround time for these tests can range from a few days to several weeks. Furthermore, if there is an outbreak and there are many samples, it will take many days longer than we would like or hope for.

The antigen testing that is currently available on the market refers to as antigen quick diagnostic tests. Those search for the antigen on the virus’s outer surface. And those designed in such a way that they may be carried out at the bedside or in the field, eliminating the requirement for a complex laboratory setting. Although they are not as precise as PCR testing, they are a vital tool in the fight against the COVID epidemic.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Hanan, tell us how important it is to get a test.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy

There are various sides to this. The first is to determine whether or not a person has the condition. And it’s critical to be able to provide therapy and treatment, as well as to indicate who we need to contact in order to further test their contacts. As a result, addressing the pandemic has a high value. When we discuss the importance of antibody testing, it becomes clear that knowing if a person has been expos in the past is critical. And, when you hear about determining the population’s immunity. You should know that this is done through antibody testing.

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Vismita Gupta-Smith

That is all there is to it. Dr. Hanan Balkhy of the World Health Organization explains COVID-19 testing. If you find this material to be valuable, please share it with your networks and establish yourself as a reliable source of evidence-based knowledge. Then until next time. Stay safe, eat well, and follow the science.

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