COVID19 Pandemic. What is going to stop it?
The virus SARS-CoV-2 continues to skyrocket causing panic in society and hugely affecting economy. So, what is, after all, going to stop the spread of SARS–CoV–2?
South Korea and China have shown that first steps towards virus control are made with large-scale testing. The formula is quite simple, the more clearly you can identify who has the disease, the less you need to depend upon indiscriminate restrictions.
Moreover, if we can test those who had asymptomatic cases of the disease and are immune to new infections, they could be exempt from quarantine measures.
180 000 Danes infected with SARS-CoV-2?
According to the latest figures from the State Serum Institute (SSI), as of today, there are more than 1850 confirmed coronavirus cases only in Denmark. But SSI assumes that the number of unregistered cases could be up to 100 times higher than there are confirmed cases. Based on that presumption, there could be up to 180 000 Danes (!) carrying the virus.
Given the limited testing to date, the data gathered on how the epidemic is evolving are unreliable and based on guessing rather than objective facts. Some deaths and probably numerous mild infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed, thus we still do not have a good understanding of the spread of the pandemic.
A call for point-of-care testing
The answers to the questions of how many people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and who are already immune will not come from the RNA-based diagnostic tests now being used in hospitals around the world. They look for the presence of viral genes in a nose or throat swab, during an acute infection. This kind of laboratory test is called a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. Under the best possible circumstances, it would take several hours to get the results. Moreover, commercial PCR-based methods are often relatively expensive, and they require technical expertise.
There is a clear need for an accurate point-of-care diagnostics platform that would take minutes instead of hours and could at the same time help to test people in a setting like a doctor’s clinic, emergency room, or drive-through coronavirus testing stations.
Ideally, physicians should be able to run tests in the doctor’s clinic or drive-through coronavirus testing stations
Paving the road for rapid detection
At BluSense, we have been developing a serological point-of-care test, which looks for antibodies of SARS-CoV-2 in a patient’s blood.
ViroTrack Sero COVID-19 IgA+IgM/IgG test could detect active infection. But, more importantly, the test could accurately identify whether a person’s immune system has ever encountered the virus and developed likely immunity, even if he or she had no symptoms.
By indicating how many people are already immune because of asymptomatic infections, antibody data could offer a key to model how fast the virus will continue to spread. As stated in the report of WHO-China joint mission on corona disease, standard serology testing can be used for retrospective diagnoses in the context of serosurveys that help better understand the full spectrum of COVID-19 infection.
Above all, our ViroTrack COVID-19 Serology test could answer how many people have been infected and would offer an answer to how big of a need for severe containment measures such as lockdowns and social distancing there is. Answering those questions is crucial to managing the pandemic and forecasting its course.