Beyond Vaccinations: Protecting Yourself In Uncertain Times
If I understand the experts correctly, and I hope I don’t, we’ve either turned the corner on Covid, and the good ol’ US of A will be back to near-normal by summer. Or, the new Covid variants just entering the country resemble a Category Five Hurricane that will cause a massive spike in sickness and fatalities in just a matter of weeks.
These divergent predictions remind me of murder mysteries where you suspect everyone and every possibility ( Mr. Green, with a candlestick, in the library – I mean, does anyone have a Clue?), so you’ve got to watch until the end to see how the plot turns out. Just what happens in the next few months may prove to be even more compelling than our other national cliffhanger: What’s in the former president’s tax returns anyway? But I digress.
Covid Virus Will Survive Herd Immunity
Unfortunately, despite the persistence of so many unknowns, experts do seem to agree that despite immunizations and herd immunity, CV-19 will not be entirely eradicated. Various CV-19 strains will be circulating in our environment (endemic) for years to come. However, we can protect ourselves through vaccination and by prudent testing. This post is about the latter. You’ll want to learn the basics about the different available tests – what they do and what they don’t do – so you can knowledgeably protect yourself, your friends, family, and coworkers. Currently, there are three distinct Covid tests. They each have different purposes, advantages, and limitations. Let’s take a very brief look at the pros and cons of each diagnostic test.
Pros: Gold Standard to detect CV-19 virus. It can detect minute amounts of the virus. If you want to know if you have a Covid infection, this is the best test available.
Cons: A PCR test won’t tell you if you’re contagious – that is, capable of transmitting CV19 to others. Also, it can take several days to get your results back from the lab.
RAPID ANTIGEN TEST (AKA Lateral Flow Test)
Pros: Rapid antigen tests are designed to detect if you’re contagious -that is, capable of getting others sick. The results of rapid tests are typically available in 15 – 30 minutes. Rapid tests don’t require a doctor’s visit or lab; they can be performed at home. They’re relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Rapid tests will not tell you if you have very low levels of the virus. They are not yet readily available, but the Biden administration is fast-tracking rapid testing.
COVID-19 ANTIBODY TESTS
Pros: Positive test shows prior exposure and immune reaction to the virus.
Cons: Antibody tests don’t tell you whether you are currently infected or contagious or if you might get it again. They are limited to testing for B cells, not T cells – another important part of the immune system.
As promised, this was a very brief introduction to different types of Covid testing. Hopefully, that whet’s your appetite: if you want more information, this is a very informative article: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00332-4
Biden’s jump-starting rapid testing: