COVID-19 Testing: Why Is It Important

July 24, 2020

As the COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continue to rise each day, NCR remains under General Community Quarantine from July 16 until July 31, 2020. With this, the government urges the public to cooperate and take things seriously in containing the virus so as to avoid bringing back the quarantine status to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). The local government units are expected to implement stricter measures, such as placing specific towns in lockdown while also performing contact tracing and mass testing in their respective cities.

Rapid Antibody Test (RAT) determines whether a person has or had an infection by checking the presence of Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in human serum, plasma and blood. Although RAT cannot be used for COVID-19 testing, it helps in early detection of the virus.

The frontliners or those who have been exposed to a sick person with or without symptoms may take the Rapid Antibody Test. This is also an effective way of finding asymptomatic individuals and preventing them from spreading the virus. Just keep in mind that incubation period is from 5 to 7 days and can be up to 14 days. So, if you get tested too early, there’s a high possibility of a false negative result.

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There are several hospitals in Metro Manila which promote drive-thru Rapid Testing at a minimal cost as their way of helping our country in containing the spread of infection.

Swab Test is the recommended procedure to detect COVID-19 infection. It involves inserting a long swab into each nasal cavity until the back of your throat, for about 15 seconds, rotating it several times. 

The medical workers, volunteers to quarantine facilities and people with direct contact to COVID-19 patients are at high risk and advised to take the swab test.

A medical professional holds a COVID-19 test tube and testing swab. Getty Images

Saliva Test is the new alternative method for testing against COVID-19. Although this has not been done yet in many countries, the United Kingdom is doing a pilot study to test 14,000 health workers. This method is suggested in places with shortage in test kits and swabs. Also, it is easier and less uncomfortable to take.

To summarize, here are the key differences among the three test procedures:

Rapid Antibody Test

Swab Test

Saliva Test

Can have a false negative result if not done properly or if taken early 

Provide accurate result for COVID-19 infection

87% effective

Can detect present and past infections

Can detect COVID-19

Not stated

Gives result in 15 to 20 minutes

Gives result after 3 days, to a maximum of 7 days

Gives result in minutes 

Not cost effective

Not cost effective

Cost effective

Can be taken through a blood sample

Can be taken by inserting a swab into the nose or throat

Can be taken through a saliva sample

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