EB: There is not a serology test available yet from CDC. The PCR test is not quantitative.
TT: At this time, a serology test for COVID-19 does not exist. Testing for COVID-19 is done through use of a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab.
EB: Work with your employer to determine your exposure and your protections. Decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis.
TT: Due to limited swabs, media, vials, and testing kits, not everyone is getting tested for COVID-19. As of Tuesday, March 24th, there are more than 48,000 COVID-19 results still pending.
The recommendation is against COVID-19 testing if someone has mild febrile respiratory illness. The goal is to limit exposure to other patients and healthcare co-workers and have them manage the symptoms at home.
Testing is tricky because if COVID-19 testing is done too early before the onset of symptoms, then we will have a negative test result. Not everyone who is exposed to COVID-19 will have symptoms. A negative COVID-19 result does not mean you are free from having an infection. It could be that you were exposed but haven’t developed the onset of symptoms yet.
EB: We live in a world where we are used to having laboratory results quickly and efficiently. With a brand new test, we need to understand that the clinical laboratory takes time to ensure that the test is accurate. We also have to understand that the test is conducted on nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs. These have to be collected properly to get a good sample.
All of these steps take time, and the test is not a simple gram stain or pregnancy test. It is looking at PCR which is examining very small parts of cells (DNA and RNA).
TT: When this is over, we will be able to back track our steps and figure out what has worked and what we could do to prepare for another public health emergency. We will need to learn best practices from South Korea and other countries that were successful with testing. Our initial response to the pandemic was not timely. The minute we heard about the growing incidence of COVID-19 cases in China, the US should have prepared.
However, we did not do that. We lost valuable time to prepare for the pandemic. Furthermore, despite the recommendations made by Dr. Anthony Fauci that we needed to prepare for the pandemic, government leaders did not fully consider Dr. Fauci’s response; this slowed our response as a nation.