Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the main types of tests used for COVID-19?
A: There are three main types of COVID-19 tests:
- Rapid serology antibody tests (ICT, LFA)
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA): It is a serological plate-based assay technique designed for detecting and quantifying substances such as peptides, proteins, antibodies and hormones. This test is not the same as PCR or Rapid Test.
- Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab tests
Rapid serology tests and ELISAs detect the presence of IgG/IgM antibodies produced by the immune system in response to a SARS2-CoV-2 infection, whereas RT-PCR swab tests are molecular tests that detect the presence of SARS2-CoV-2 viral RNA. A more in-depth comparison of these three main types of COVID-19 tests is shown below:
Q: Why is it important to expand COVID-19 rapid serology antibody testing? What can these types of tests tell us that the more commonly used RT-PCR swab tests cannot?
A: Recently, the US FDA has written about the importance of expanding COVID-19 rapid serology antibody testing (in a statement by FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D).
Current diagnostic testing for COVID-19 has relied on labor-intensive molecular techniques (RT-PCR swab tests) and has generally been reserved for patients whose illness severity, age and/or comorbidities place them at high risk of severe disease.
Antibody testing for SARS-CoV-2, including IgM and IgG responses, will enable us to understand the prevalence and incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections.
To provide complementary low-cost, low-labor COVID-19 test data, to allow for health care personnel and other essential workers with potential protective immunity to return to work and daily life more safely and quickly (Weitz, Beckett et al. 2020).
To help identify individuals with robust antibody responses, whose serum or plasma may potentially serve as a therapeutic option for severe COVID-19 disease - although this has not yet been confirmed (Cheng, Wong et al. 2005, Duan, Liu et al. 2020, Roback and Guarner 2020, Shen, Wang et al. 2020).
Recent work has also described that SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding often occurs in early presymptomatic stages, which could affect the dynamics and accuracies