Why rapid testing in non-traditional settings will remain an important tool to address the pandemic
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By: Dr. Charles Cooper, M.D.
With an increasing number of people receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, continued mask precautions in public settings and the rapid case decline observed in the past several weeks, it may seem as though the days of rapid antigen testing will soon be behind us. This could not be further from the truth.
While rapid antigen testing remains essential in medical settings such as hospitals, urgent care facilities, pharmacies and pop-up testing locations, steps are being made to bring the world into its “new normal,” which includes returning to public places like schools, airports and places of business more regularly. Therefore, the next critical step on the health care front is providing the resources necessary to conduct rapid testing in non-traditional settings.
In order to safely return to life in places where people gather, on-the-spot testing plays an important role in containing and reducing the spread of the virus and can provide critical information to public health authorities to monitor cases that do arise. Having a diagnosis within minutes increases the probability of safeguarding those who would otherwise become exposed.
Moreover, in these settings, ease of use is key. Digitally read tests display a “+” or “-” on the screen to eliminate subjectivity and provide confidence in results to novice testers. Once the results appear, some testing devices can upload data to the cloud for ease of sharing results with the tested individual, and those in charge of monitoring the safety of the area. And some rapid antigen testing units are fully portable, battery-powered device that can go anywhere.
Of course, there are logistical and systematic hurdles to overcome to make testing in non-traditional settings happen. In foreseeing these challenges, third party testing companies can take that burden off of the school, the business or the airport to provide both the tests and the service packaged into one.
Additionally, the state of Delaware has been recognized by other states and school districts for implementing a successful testing program. State officials have determined antigen testing as an indispensable tool for a school’s mitigation strategies in making their space safer for both students and staff. This is a new reality made possible with joint efforts being piloted in more than 30 district, charter and private schools across the state in an effort to get kids back in classrooms.
As long as Covid-19 continues to circulate, diagnostic testing for Covid-19 will remain essential. Setting up rapid antigen testing sites in public places like airports and schools is the next step in eradicating Covid-19 and getting back to public life.
Looking even further ahead, the next technological development is at-home testing. Multiple companies have announced future at-home applications using antigen tests and mobile apps.
The medical technology industry remains committed to generating rapid antigen testing for health care professionals and patients, and creating the innovative technology needed to ensure health and safety.
About the Author
Dr. Charles Cooper, M.D. is vice president for Medical and Scientific Affairs at BD, a leading global medical technology company. To learn more about how BD is providing patients with reliable testing results amid the Covid-19 pandemic, visit bdveritor.com