‘Instant Coffee COVID-19 tests’ would fare better to control the current pandemic than the ‘Espresso’ tests!

COVID-19 has caused a lot of damage to the world’s economy. The economy is spiralling down and unemployment is rising. Normalcy has to be restored fast. But the raging COVID-19 is not allowing it. A vaccine is out of clear sight and understanding presently. Social distancing, face masks, and hand hygiene alone are unable to control the rapid transmission of the deadly virus. Then what is the solution? The answer is Instant Coffee COVID-19 tests, says Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. What does she mean by it?

Instant coffee COVID-19 tests

Michael Mina, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health used this analogy of Instant coffee to describe the rapid and cheap COVID-19 tests. There are two approaches to testing for the virus and Instant coffee approach is the best at the moment. Michael said:

“This is the most important potential tool that could exist today,”

“We pretty much have a different way…to stop community transmission in the absence of a vaccine—and it is sitting right in front of us.”

Rapid and cheap COVID-19 tests [Source: AARP]

Tests -affordable and accessible and rapid

Currently, testing for the virus is ongoing at many centers of the USA and the world. But these tests take a long time to offer results. Besides, they are expensive. And additionally, they are not so easily available. Therefore, the answer is to have cheap and rapid tests which are readily accessible to the masses.

Rapid and cheap tests for coronavirus can slow viral spread [Source: Omnia Health Insights]
More and more people would use the test if the results come fast and are also friendly for their pockets. Michael separates these tests into two categories-namely Espresso coffee and Instant Coffee. What exactly does Michael mean by these two groups?

The two types of tests for COVID-19

The Espresso tests are reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests or deluxe antigen tests. They are sensitive but are costly and also labor-intensive. They require special machines to give the results. The cost per test ranges from $30 to $150. The time between the test and the result is long.

And on the other hand are tests such as rapid paper antigen tests, that includes one made by E25Bio, and one being developed by 3M and MIT. These give fast results and are simple to use. They can be done at home and the cost is bearable; just $1 to $5 per test. They are less sensitive than the PCR but do not pick up inactive viruses.

Sensitive COVID-19 tests take time and money [Source: DH]
At this time, it is important to have a test that can give a result before the person can spread the virus in the community. Therefore, one needs a test which offers fast results rather than a perfect result. Micheal and his team have proven by means of a model of public health surveillance that frequency of testing and rapid reporting of results matter more in the control of this pandemic rather than the comparative sensitivity of the various tests themselves.

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