Why social media is buzzing about the antigen test for coronavirus
from Adam | January 13, 2021
Last December 2019, the city of Wuhan in China was put on lockdown over the discovery of a new virus that had the potential to kill citizens by the hundreds and eventually by the thousands. The virus was then identified as SARS-CoV-2 as it spread to different countries and affected major cities around the world. Before long, the virus caused the disease now identified as COVID-19, which is what is causing officials to report a global pandemic.
The escalation of this pandemic has pushed hospital systems beyond their capacity. COVID-19 hit businesses as countries quarantined their cities, closed businesses, moved schools online, forced businesses to implement work-from-home structures, and generally disrupted many local economies.
COVID-19 testing and detection
Since the virus spread, many countries have implemented new digital solutions to improve traditional methods of contact tracing and testing the spread of the virus. As a result, virus testing has been one of the most popular topics on social media for months as it has a variety of messages, some of which contain inaccurate information.
There are currently two tests available to diagnose active COVID-19 infection:
- Molecular PCR test
PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. It is a molecular diagnostic test that detects whether the genetic material of the virus is active in the human body. These PCR tests are very sensitive and specifically test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.
- Antigen test
The antigen test for COVID-19 detects the viral proteins found in the virus. Like PCR testing, antigen testing is very specific for COVID-19. However, it is important to note that they are not that delicate. A positive antigen test indicates that a person is infected with the virus and is classified as contagious. Sumant Vasan, Marketing Director for Confirm BioSciences, would recommend antigen test kits because they provide faster results and are less expensive than PCR tests.
How does the COVID-19 antigen test work?
People rave about this test on social media because they don’t understand exactly how antigen tests work or how to do them correctly. An antigen is a foreign substance that the human immune system recognizes and that can react by producing proteins called antibodies. These antibodies specifically recognize specific antigens.
The nucleocapsid protein was found to be part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The antigen tests look for the fragments of the protein to prove whether the virus has infected a person or not.
Why are people discussing antigen testing?
The main reason people rave about the COVID-19 antigen test on social media is because of the potential for a false positive or false negative, and the implications of such readings. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to clinical laboratory personnel and healthcare providers about this issue. According to the agency, if users don’t follow the antigen test instructions to quickly detect the virus, false results will occur.
In general, antigen tests are only performed by health care providers on people who are suspected of having COVID-19 within a certain number of days after symptoms of the infection appear. For this reason, many medical experts recommend not taking the test if you are not experiencing symptoms, as it can create a false sense of security.
Regardless of whether the result is false positive or negative, it would affect the way people would move around in society. Some would be reckless or careless while others could develop anxiety and other side effects. Endless debates still prevail across all types of media, and it seems that new discourses and arguments are still being produced while the pandemic persists.
The FDA continues to monitor reports of these false results and from time to time issues updates and recommendations on how to use and perform the tests. To prevent unfortunate cases from occurring, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a guide to antigen testing. Be sure to follow these guidelines for accurate results when testing for COVID-19.
Indeed, COVID-19 has disrupted the world in ways that humankind would never have thought in this day and age, affecting businesses, health systems, lifestyles, and economies. Because of this, everyone should follow health and safety protocols and stay up to date with vaccine development and updates to newer virus spreads.
Social media is a faster and crucial medium for spreading news and alerting people to situations related to the coronavirus. However, some people tend to get negative feedback on certain topics that could spread misinformation. Such actions can affect and interfere with the actual information people need. So make it your goal to verify that it is correct. Better yet, check the official social media accounts and websites of experts like the FDA and CDC for relevant news, reports, and updates.