Accurate testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection, by which we mean testing with few false positives as well as few false negatives, is important not only for clinical management of individual cases but for epidemiological case tracing, limiting spread of infection and informing public health strategies. In the latter situations, tests that are rapid, cheap and easy to perform are particularly desirable.
Two main forms of testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection are in use.
- Antigen testing, which includes the self administered immunochromatographic lateral flow test (LFT), detects viral coat material and is developed by raising a specific antibody against the antigen target. It therefore measures active production of the viral protein that constitutes the antigen. Developing such a test requires knowledge of how the viral behaves in the host and is reliant upon generating a sensitive and specific antibody to be used for the test.
- Molecular tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR)…
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