Story at a glance
- Overall testing for the coronavirus is down worldwide.
- Experts say it will be harder to track the coronavirus if testing remains low.
- Here’s what you need to know about testing.
With demand and funding running low, testing for the coronavirus has dropped significantly in recent months. Testing has dropped 70 to 90 percent globally and experts say this will make tracking the virus much harder, according to the Associated Press. Health officials say that we need to continue to test to keep an eye on variants as well as to be able to spot a wave coming.
The molecular polymerase chain reaction tests are still the gold standard to determine whether someone has the SARS-CoV-2 virus in their body.
If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive, you should quarantine and get a PCR test at least five days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are symptomatic, you should get tested immediately.
Rapid antigen tests
Authorized coronavirus at-home rapid antigen tests have become more widely available in the last six months. Many school districts used them as part of their policy to test students so that they may continue in-person learning. Around the holidays during the winter when getting a PCR test result back could take a few days to a week, the rapid tests were crucial for many to get some idea of the risk of spreading the virus around gatherings.
You should continue to use rapid tests, which are important for when symptoms first appear, or for assessing risk to go to in-person events. One thing to keep in mind is that, since more people are using rapid tests and may be skipping PCR tests, local positive test results from PCR testing may not be as accurate and may be less reliable for trying to understand community transmission.
If you test positive
If you test positive with a PCR test, you should isolate and notify your close contacts. Rapid tests can be helpful in the days after to determine when the chance that you are infectious is lower. If you are symptomatic, you may try to get a prescription of Paxlovid, the pill treatment to be taken over five days.
If you test positive with a rapid test, it’s highly recommended that you follow up with a PCR test to confirm. You can also follow up with rapid tests in the days after to get a sense for what your risk is.
There’s new evidence to suggest that, in a small percentage of COVID-19 patients who take the treatment Paxlovid, virus levels might rebound after treatment has been completed. From data during the clinical trials, Pfizer reports that this happens in about 2 percent of individuals. In a preprint study, researchers describe the case of a 71-year-old man who took Paxlovid soon after testing positive. The treatment did lower the viral load initially, but virus levels and symptoms increased again after day 9. The study has not been peer reviewed yet for publication in an academic journal.
Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina explains in her newsletter that this could be happening for many reasons, like the drug is being administered too early or not for long enough, and we currently do not have enough data to get a full picture.
Testing for travel
Many countries are dropping testing requirements for entry. For example, a test is no longer required to arrive in the U.K., Poland, and vaccinated people are not required to get tested or quarantine upon entering Thailand. Check government websites for the latest information.
International air travelers arriving in the U.S., regardless of vaccination status and nationality, are still required to have a negative test within a day of their departure flight to enter the country, according to the CDC website. The CDC also recommends getting tested 3 to 5 days after arrival.
Published on May. 13, 2022