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CoviSelf – Stating accuracy of test would be very tricky

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With the increase in pandemic conditions in Maharashtra, a company called MyLab of Pune has developed a ‘Coviself’ kit. Through which one can test whether their corona report is positive or negative. The director of MyLab company said, we are the first company in India, which has been approved by ICMR for the home test or self-test, we can also say, you can see this test kit after one week in every medical store in India.

Once the kit arrives at your home, you can do the COVID-19 test yourself. If you have any symptoms or you have come in contact with a patient with corona symptoms then this news is for you. But the biggest challenge in this self-assessment is the collection of swabs. No one will easily let go of something in their nose and throat. Nasal samples are taken and measured. Saliva is also tested through such kits which is a more economical and effective way. Well, this is too early to comment on its repercussions.

People can gain confidence only by knowing about the efficacy of test methods. Recently, many clinics are offering tests directly in the clinic or through home tests. Special COVID-19 kits are developed and working successfully in many parts of the world, but these tests are done by some medical representatives or lab technicians. Same as pathological tests at your home by collecting blood stool and urine samples by lab technicians. You don’t take blood from your arteries.

Using CoviSelf giving accuracy would be very tricky, the result can say “yes, you have antibodies” but going further, “antibodies for what” and “antibodies for how long” and finally “and how long will those antibodies afford protection” oh, and one more, “what level of protection?”. These tests have unpublished rates of false positives and false negatives. We don’t even know what the test does and how good it is.

Presuming the RT-PCR tests, then it cannot be truly said to be a COVID-19 diagnostic test. Such tests are closer to fraud than COVID-19 tests. RT-PCR had 40% false positives and 40% false negatives. They are essentially worthless. At Huntsville Hospital these rapid tests were activated in 10 unopened tests and all came back positive. Such tastings can be proven schemes.

Moreover, no self-test kits are 100 per cent accurate whatever it is testing for. There will always be some uncertainty due to the precautions taken to not contaminate the kit before or after the test was administered the competence of the person conducting the test and even if the test kit has been compromised in some way.

Plague, once upon a time, was believed to be spread by dust. Electron microscopy made it possible to visualise viruses, but every laboratory cannot afford it. Therefore, easier methods such as ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) were adopted as a basic test for detecting a group of viruses, whose accuracy is only 60%. Therefore, ELISA has been replaced by rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in recent years. Antigen test confirms the presence of antigen, as a level 2 test, accuracy can be nearly 50 per cent.

PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) is sampler based, that detects antigen rather than immune response, still has a drawback that the said sample may contain an insufficient quantity of detectable viruses, whereby it may be subjected to cloning by PCR for better molecular-level detection.

See, if you test positive, maybe you have been exposed, in just the last 10 days or so, and will soon become ill with it. OR, it could mean, you were exposed some time ago and maybe — but maybe not, are somewhat immune. Even if you are immune to what degree and for how long is it a tricky thing to detect? Toss in, if you have some level of immunity, does that mean you can no longer pass it to someone else? The new CoviSelf kit is the rapid Antigen test in individual packaging to be made available to the public through pharmacies. It is basically the same Rapid Antigen test that is currently being done by healthcare workers and Labs at airports or bus stops and railway stations. These tests can’t guarantee you complete a health check.

Whether you can test yourself accurately is difficult to answer as there are many ifs and buts while performing the most important step of the test — nasal swab Collection. A layman wouldn’t know how the swab is to be collected, or how much the swab should be inserted in his or her own nostril for the sample to be properly and adequately collected. Let’s boil this down so far — and this might change, but so far, it does not appear the rest can tell you much of value — as I see it anyway.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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