As the SARS-Cov-2 epidemic unfolded over the previous year, the procedures for detecting and diagnosing COVID-19 followed the same pattern as those used for decades to identify and diagnose influenza.
FREMONT, CA: Journalists have spent the last year debating the relative benefits of several sorts of testing in the hope of identifying the optimal way. People have come to believe that technology will permit perfection in the twenty-first century. As a result, people anticipate a binary response, with everything being either right or wrong or good or awful. As with most things in life, the truth about IVD test procedures is a little more nuanced.
Rather than asking which IVD test method is the best, people should ask which IVD test method is the best for a particular case. Each testing technique requires various equipment and yields different information; consequently, when determining which is the best, one must consider the situation he is testing and the information he hopes to obtain.
While most attention is currently focused on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19, people will examine another example, influenza, which is more established and similar to COVID-19. Numerous techniques for detecting influenza infection exist, ranging from lateral flow tests to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and genetic sequencing, all of which have been employed to detect COVID-19 throughout the last year.
Numerous tests use the 'lateral flow' format. Some are used to detect the virus itself (antigen tests), while others see viral-specific antibodies.
In influenza, lateral flow tests detect the virus and distinguish between the two predominant human influenza strains, A and B.
The information provided will either confirm or deny a flu illness and identify whether you have influenza A or B (the latter often considered causing more severe infections). A lateral flow test outcome may allow a physician to prescribe an antiviral medication such as zanamivir (Relenza) or, more often, oseltamivir in certain conditions (Tamiflu).
Lateral flow tests are simple to perform, may be performed in non-laboratory settings, and require approximately 10-20 minutes to complete. Additionally, they are less expensive than other test procedures.
However, there are limitations. Lateral flow antigen tests are less sensitive than polymerase chain reaction (PCR). There is a risk of obtaining false-negative results if there is an insufficient virus to detect using this less sensitive test method. The sensitivity restriction has been a regular topic of discussion in the popular press, but the costs have not always been justified compared to the advantages. It is quite improbable that a positive finding is inaccurate. Because lateral flow studies do not require highly qualified laboratory people or specialized equipment, they can be performed in a wide variety of various locations and on a large scale. This means that, in the context of COVID-19, testing can be conducted in workplaces and schools, leading to the detection of asymptomatic cases and assisting in the prevention of virus spread.