Lateral flow tests have been an important pillar in the global fight against covin 19. To ensure everyone is well and safe, people are continuously reminded of how important it is to regularly test themselves at home and report the results. Lateral flow tests make it possible for asymptomatic individuals to know they are infected with covid 19 so they don’t keep their close contacts in danger.
Other than that, the tests have made it easy for healthcare professionals around the globe to build a clear picture of the local covid 19 infection rates. Did you know that 1 in 3 people do not exhibit any signs of infection? Now you know. It is important that you get lateral flow test kits and keep them at home so that you can test yourself and your loved ones twice every week. We should avoid getting complacent with the war against covid 19 because it is still here with us. This article looks at the global impact of lateral flow tests in the COVID-19 battle.
Let’s delve in.
Understanding Lateral Flow Tests
Lateral flow tests are also known as rapid tests. They almost function the same way as the usual home pregnancy test kit. Lateral flow tests are highly effective as they can produce results within 15 to 30 minutes compared to PCR tests that require a few hours or days to provide patient results.
To test for COVID-19 using LTFs, you need to place a throat or nose swab into a tube with a reagent liquid. The contents of the swab and the reagent liquid have to be mixed to create a solution. You then drop the solution on a test cartridge containing antibodies to coronavirus.
If the solution you have created contains coronavirus, it bonds with those antibodies in a chemical reaction. Through the chemical reaction, you start seeing a colored line in the cartridge window. That indicates that the test has turned out positive.
The Global Impact of Lateral Flow Tests in the Battle Against Covid 19
Countries across the globe have used lateral flow tests in various ways to fight the spread of Covid 19 and mitigate its impact on economies, public health, and people’s daily lives. Although the rate of infections has largely decreased, people are still dying due to covid 19 infections. In the UK, for instance, 619 deaths were recorded in the week that ended on 17 March 2023. That was 4.5% of the deaths that occurred in the same week. That tells you how important it is to get tested regularly even if you don’t show symptoms.
Lateral flow tests have been instrumental in mass testing campaigns in many countries. Through this exercise, healthcare officials have successfully identified positive cases and isolated the individuals quickly before they spread. Such tests are crucial in high-risk settings like schools, healthcare facilities, public events, and workplaces.
When healthcare officials identify individuals who are COVID-19 positive, they hand over the information to contact tracers who quickly reach all the individuals who may have gotten exposed. These individuals get the proper guidance on how they are going to isolate themselves and get tested before they spread the virus further.
Early Detection and Screening
Lateral flow tests have been on the front line as a tool used for screening and early detection of covid 19 cases. They have been effective, especially in identifying individuals with mild symptoms or asymptomatic carriers who could be unknowingly spreading the virus. Individuals who have been found positive during screening have been isolated to prevent them from further transmitting the virus to their close contacts.
Reducing the Healthcare Burden
Testing with PCR tests has been burdensome and has overwhelmed healthcare facilities. A Lot of people have been stitching in laboratories, waiting for their results due to the scarcity of laboratory equipment. Today, many are using lateral flow tests as they are more accessible. Rapid tests have effectively reduced pressure on clinics and hospitals where the available resources are now used to cater to severe cases in the facilities.
Supporting Reopening Efforts
Lateral flow tests have been very instrumental in supporting the reopening of economies around the globe. Many countries have returned to a semblance of normalcy thanks to LFTs. Lateral flow tests have made it easy for businesses, public venues, and schools to test staff, students, and visitors regularly. It has been a safe resumption of different activities as no one can stay in such places while they are infected with covid 19.
In attempts to contain the spread of coronavirus, many countries have controlled their entry points. They require that all travelers produce negative lateral flow test results for them to gain entry. Rapid testing has enabled governments to prevent the cross-border spread of covid 19 and allowed the continuation of international travel. People can now travel freely while they abide by the safety precautions provided.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, covid 19 virus has been presenting itself in different mutations. Among the variants known today are the SARS-CoV-2 variants. Lateral flow tests have been playing a vital role during the process of monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The fact that public health authorities can test and quickly identify the variants has made it easy for them to respond appropriately. For instance, they have been able to adjust their public health measures and vaccination strategies throughout the globe as required.