In the height of technology, with the race to produce a vaccine and in the efforts to protect and make new discoveries, COVID 19 has shaken up our world as we once knew it. The aggravating feeling of getting to our favorite stores, restaurants, or markets doors then having to retract to our cars to retrieve our masks is becoming all too familiar. The stress that our minds undergo daily as we turn on the news and see what is going on around the world has us in constant worry. However, there is a cure for this, and that cure is knowledge. MCI Laboratory recognizes the need for peace of mind, and is happy to provide you with knowledge of our laboratory, what technology we use, our capacity, time and tests available.
The most accurate and gold standard test available on the market for COVID-19 is the RT-PCR. The acronym is simplified for ‘reverse- transcription polymerase chain reaction’ and this means that this test is analyzing the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) from the upper respiratory tract. It is the preferred initial diagnostic test for COVID -19. Here at MCI Diagnostics Center, we use the m2000 manufactured by Abbott Laboratories that runs every seven hours with a max of 3000 per day, and the BD Max- RT-PCR (EUA) which runs every 3 hours. If you have taken a RT-PCR test and your result returned as positive, this confirmed your diagnosis of COVID-19.
Next, we have the rapid antigen testing for SARS-COV-2(EUA). Antigen tests are immunoassays, which means they are detecting and measuring the presence of a specific viral antigen. If this antigen is detected it is implied that there is a current viral infection. This test is currently authorized to be performed on nasopharyngeal as well as nasal swab specimens and performs its best when the infection is in the early stages. This is because the viral load is generally at its apex. MCI laboratories process samples individually on the technology known as Veritor constructed by BD. This device allows us to receive results in fifteen minutes and the volume is essentially limitless. It is meant for symptomatic patients only. However, antigen tests are less sensitive than viral tests that perform to detect nucleic acid using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Lastly, we have the antibody test. Antibodies are just proteins that help fight off infections and can provide protection to increase immunity. Antibodies are checked through one’s blood. When you test for antibodies, you are increasing your chance to become more knowledgeable about your body for a few reasons. The first being that it may tell you if you have had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. The second being antibody testing assesses the immune systems response to the virus. In our lab we use the Cobas 6000 provided by Roche and Diasorin Liaison XL. It runs individually and only takes thirty minutes. Antibody test should not be used to diagnose current COVID-19 infection. Your body can produce antibodies one to three weeks after your infection and some people may never produce antibodies though they have had the virus.
In conclusion, there are a few tests you can choose from when testing for COVID-19. During these fluctuating times we continue to encourage everyone to remain calm and continue to be tested even if you are not having symptoms. The numbers are being reported as still rising nationwide, but testing for our local community is declining. Let us work together to remember to wear our masks, social distance, wash our hands, clean surfaces, follow public health officials and self-isolate as you return from travel. To secure your test visit https://mcicovid.com.