How to Analyse COVID-19 Test Report

  • 37 months ago
3 minute read.
How to Analyse COVID-19 Test Report

India is grappling through the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Healthcare officials, citizens, governments, organisations are working round the clock to prevent the spread and help people recover. As the number of infections rises, one of the most important methods to contain the spread is by ramping up testing, staying home, following precautionary guidelines, and get vaccinated.

Testing for COVID-19 enables isolation of the individual, reducing spread by contact tracing and calculation of the rate of infection. Besides these, practices such as social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands, avoiding gatherings contribute to a decline in the spread.

Also Read : COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Home Isolation

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How is the Presence of COVID-19 Determined?

Determination of the presence of COVID-19 in the body can be done via two tests.

  1. The Reverse Transcriptase PCR test (RT-PCR)
  2. Rapid Antigen Testing

These methods involve collections of nasopharyngeal swabs. The RT-PCR test identifies genetic material that only comes from the virus. Rapid antigen tests identify protein fragments of the virus present in the body.

While these tests are done to detect current infection, there are tests where the sample obtained is the blood. Antibody testing is one such method where the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system in response to the infection are identified.

Also Read : 10 Superfoods to boost your immunity

Analysis of Your COVID-19 Test Report If Tested Positive

If the result indicates positive, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the body is confirmed. The components of an RT-PCR test report include,

  • Basic information related to the patient
  • Type of swab collection and date
  • Type of test done
  • CT value
  • Other variables according to testing kit and methodology followed by laboratory

The cyclic tension (CT) value can be used for partial diagnosis of viral load. However, it cannot be held for complete clinical interpretation. CT values generally refer to the number of PCR cycles post which the virus was detected in the body. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, a CT value of less than 35 indicates that the individual has tested positive for the virus.

It is important to not compare test results as different due to multiple variables. Laboratories could differ regarding the testing kit, methodology, level of detection, sensitivity and other factors.

However, staying calm, recording symptoms and consulting doctors is the path to recovery for most patients. In case of moderate to mild symptoms, one should self-isolate, keep an eye on oxygen saturation levels, monitor temperature, take prescribed medicines if necessary while staying hydrated and eating nutrition-rich food.

Also Read: 4 Ways to Increase Oxygen Level in COVID-19 Patients at Home

Analysis of Your COVID-19 Test Report If Tested Negative

If tested negative, majorly, there is an absence of COVID-19 in the body. An RT-PCR has an up to 95% efficacy rate, which prompts us to discuss the possibility of false-negative tests. False-negative tests are where the patient is symptomatic, and yet has received a negative report from the RT-PCR test.

So, how is that possible? Theoretically, there are four major factors that determine the accuracy of an RT-PCR test,

  • the viral load
  • quality of sample collection
  • processing methods
  • effectiveness of the test kit

In the presence of modification of any of these factors, a ‘false negative’ test report can be seen. However, consulting a medical professional is recommended in such symptomatic yet negative report cases.

Albeit the report suggests that you are not infected with COVID-19 at the time your sample was collected, there is a necessity to continue to take steps to protect oneself and others.

Also Read : Double-Up Against COVID-19 Second Wave: Key To Stay Safe

Protection and Prevention, to End The War Against COVID-19

The need of the hour is to minimise and contain the spread of COVID-19. It is essential to isolate if symptoms appear, wear a mask, effectively practice social distancing and to have a hygienic environment.

Proper monitoring of oneself can lead to early detection and treatment. With worldwide vaccine availability, it is also the responsibility of an individual to get vaccinated to prevent further infection.

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