The use of rapid tests to detect Covid-19 would help fight the pandemic by maintaining specific control over infections, according to experts. Even during a new wave, the strategic combination of rapid tests and vaccinations can decrease transmission cases and prevent business and school closures. This is due to the fact that a large part of the infections occur because “anyone can be exposed to the virus and not realize it until after they have become infectious.”
Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, during 2020 asked federal regulators to approve rapid antigen tests to detect Covid-19. With the argument that the widespread and frequent use of the diagnosis has the potential to stop the outbreaks in time and keep the number of cases down. So the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to approve inexpensive over-the-counter, non-prescription SARS-CoV-2 tests.
The test results are available within 10 minutes and also serve to detect Covid-19 infection for about 10 days, a period of high probability of contagion. With this tool, people can know if they are infected with coronavirus even when they do not have symptoms. “We know that rapid test results are critical because anyone can be exposed to this virus and not realize it until after they have become infectious,” Mina said.
Likewise, given the reduction of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in several US states, experts and authorities recommend maintaining the necessary precautions. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, prematurely relaxing restrictions can be serious. Added to this, the spread of a more contagious variant threatens to lead to a third wave, similar to the one already underway in Europe, according to Walensky.
For her part, Mina indicated, in the event of another wave of infections, vaccinating the most vulnerable in conjunction with taking rapid tests would help quell the outbreaks. This would help avoid the closure of schools and businesses, and even allow society to function close to normal and avoid collapsing health systems. “That means that when an outbreak starts in a school or a nursing home or wherever in the future, we don’t have to shut things down,” he added.
With the detection of Covid-19 through rapid tests, the pandemic would not force new confinements or the collapse of hospitals, according to Mina. In addition, the infections next fall and winter would be much less and it would not hit as severely as last year.