The evolution of COVID-19 testing

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — With the evolution of COVID-19, testing has changed drastically.

Just a few months ago, those in the medical field were scrambling to learn everything they could about a new virus, COVID-19. As the virus has changed so has testing. One example is with its response times.

“Initially it started with the cdc performing the tests,” Laboratory Technical Supervisor Kriston Williams said. “Then it rolled out to state health labs and then it went to private laboratories, such as Quest and LabCorp. Now, hospitals have the ability to perform these tests so testing capacity just went from very minimal to exponential over the time course.”

Over the past few months the amount of testing has changed with their currently being three different tests available for patients.

“The molecular test that was the initial test offered by the CDC, it actually detects the viral RNA,” Williams said. “So, it’s looking for the virus itself. That’s typically performed by the nasopharyngeal swab or an oropharyngeal swab. The second test that was launched is the Serology test which is a blood test that looks for the immune response to the virus.”

The final test is an Antigen test that looks for viral proteins. While these tests are great, the hope is a vaccine will soon be created.

“That’s always are hope in public health and then if the vaccine becomes available, people actually get vaccinated,” Assistant Director of the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District Amy Fagan said. “That’s a problem we face every year with the flu where there’s always concerns of limitations of people actually taking the vaccine.”

As testing continues to change, the hope is the ultimate transformation will come in the form of a vaccine.

As far as a vaccine goes, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview at the end of April that it’s not out of the question that the United States could have a viable Coronavirus vaccine by January 2021.

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