SARS-CoV2 is a coronavirus that most often enters our body through the upper respiratory system through the mouth or nose, but can enter through the eyes. SARS-CoV2 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets in the air or through droplets that have settled onto various surfaces (tables, door handles, food packages, gas pump nozzles, etc.). Transmission of the virus in the air free of these droplets is suspected but has not yet been proven for SARS-CoV2.
What is a SARS-CoV2 infection? Infection occurs when coronaviruses enter cells within the body and multiply, often killing those cells in the process as new coronaviruses are released and then enter neighboring cells. Over time, this can compromise large parts of our respiratory system, and can greatly impact our health.
COVID-19 is the diagnosis of a SARS-CoV2 infection in a person, whether symptoms are felt or not.
In most people, infections by SARS-CoV2 are limited to the upper respiratory system. In many of these people, no symptoms are felt - whether this is due to an active immune response developed from a prior coronavirus infection or if it is due to differences in differences in an individual's innate immunity is still being researched and debated.
Others may experience symptoms similar to those of a common cold (stuffy nose, sore throat, nasal drainage, mild chest congestion). In fact, 15-25% of common colds are caused by coronaviruses that have been circulating through the human population for years or even decades.
However, in some people in which the virus is not well-controlled by their immune system (often exacerbated by co-morbidities* or genetic factors), infections can spread into and also be seen in the lower respiratory track, digestive system, and the circulatory system (This is why blue lips are indicative of chronic and potentially serious COVID-19). These more systematic infections can result in symptoms seen with other more severe respiratory infections like influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia: difficulty breathing, fever, nausea, muscle and joint stiffness, diarrhea, or the loss or alteration of sensory perception (especially of an oro-nasal nature, like taste or smell).
*the most common comorbidities include advanced age, obesity, diabetes or pre-diabetes or other metabolic disorder, chronic medical conditions of a non-allergic nature, poor nutrition, or pathologies due to vitamin deficiencies.
Most young and healthy middle-aged Americans will not feel any signs or symptoms of SARS-CoV2 infection. These people are classified as either healthy carriers or asymptomatic carriers (these terms are interchangeable in most cases). In addition, people who will be vaccinated may become asymptomatic carriers if they are exposed to the virus. These carriers are capable of releasing virus into the air and infecting others, especially in the first 10-14 days of infection.
Because the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to symptoms of many other respiratory track diseases, the only way to confirm COVID-19 is to confirm the presence of the SARS-CoV2 in a given person.
Because many people are asymptomatic, you should be tested for the presence of SARS-CoV2 in you, to ensure you will not transmit the virus to others as an asymptomatic carrier.
There are three ways to test for the presence of a virus infection:
Antigen and antibody tests can give results quite quickly (a few minutes in some cases), while it can take several hours to identify specific DNA or RNA sequences in a genomic test (turnaround times in real life are days long). However, the structure of DNA or RNA is far more uniform than that of proteins, making genomic tests more easily and rapidly developed. In addition, genomic and antigen tests test for an active current infection, while antibody tests only indicate an exposure to an infection in the past (that may or may not even be present anymore).
Because (1) accurate tests can be quickly developed to detect DNA or RNA, and (2) genomic tests look for current infection and not prior infections, genomic tests are the most reliable tests to look for active SARS-CoV2 infections. Therefore, we plan to make available to you soon the COVID-19 genomic test kit, that looks for the presence of specific RNA sequences that are uniquely found in SARS-CoV2, to diagnose a current and active case of COVID-19.
However, as we enter the vaccination stage for COVID-19 and because large numbers of our population have already been exposed to the virus, we also need to confirm that our bodies are protecting us from COVID-19 by producing protective antibodies. Although these test have more "false positives" than a genomic test (due to the detection of antibodies protecting the body against other coronaviruses), they can be rapidly done (because they employ rapid protein connections formed within minutes, instead of performing 20-30 rounds of slower DNA amplification that can take 2-3 hours), and can indicate whether the body is going through its first exposure to COVID or a repeated exposure to COVID-19. Therefore we also make available to you the COVID-19 IgM/IgG antibody test kit. This test kit looks for evidence that our body is mounting not only a new responses to COVID-19 (IgM response) but also experienced and more refined responses to COVID-19 (IgG response).
Our antibody test is a rapid immunoassay test. We caution the reader that all rapid immunoassay test have significant false-positive and false-negative rates as a consequence of the speed of the diagnosis, and should be repeated or coupled with other tests to obtain a more certain diagnosis.
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