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 COVID-19: new test rolled out and it’s a prick!

27.03.20. New ‘point-of-care’ finger-prick tests for coronavirus are being rolled out. The Federal Government has consistently said this testing rate — at approximately 557 tests per 100,000 people — is among the highest in the world. While the standard testing method is a throat and nasal swab, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Tuesday new finger-prick tests will soon be rolled out within GP clinics. We asked the Department of Health and experts what these new “point-of-care” tests are, and how they differ from the swab tests, which are still in use. The standard COVID-19 tests are called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and so far, all of the tests which have been carried out in Australia have been these types of tests
Source: ABC
This test is also sometimes called “molecule photocopying,” ACT Australian Medical Association president Antonio Di Dio explained.
“It’s kind of like taking a fingerprint of a piece of RNA,” he said.
“In the context of COVID-19, you get a piece of the RNA from a swab of the patient, you double it, then again and again. Until you have millions of copies.”
A few hours later — you’ve got a sample that’s big enough to see if coronavirus is present.
To collect that sample, a medical practitioner will take swabs from the back of the nose and throat, or fluid from the lungs.
Lower respiratory tract samples may also be taken, in which case you will be asked to rinse your mouth with water and then cough phlegm into a sterile, screw-top container.
These PCR tests aren’t going anywhere — Mr Hunt said they remained a “critical component” in our testing toolkit going forward.
How does the new finger-prick test work?
Mr Hunt confirmed on Wednesday that “point-of-care” or “finger-prick” COVID-19 tests had been approved in the past several days.
“They will be deployed, which will then allow for greater testing of patients within the general practice setting,” he said.
They use a different technique to the PCR tests because they look for antibodies, which are a protein made in your bloodstream to fight infection.
The finger-prick test is much quicker — returning results in as little as 15 minutes.
They’re also much cheaper.
However, Dr Di Dio cautioned that they’re not as effective and sometimes a PCR test might still be required as well.
“The answer to that will depend on a few things, like will we run out of proper PCR tests?” he said.
“Or, have so many Australians got it that we can’t afford to wait?”
With the coronavirus outbreak escalating rapidly, many other tests are quickly coming onto the local and international markets.
In recent days, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved another test for use, called the “Cepheid GeneXpert.”
This test can deliver results in as little as 45 minutes, and Dr Di Dio described it as a really exciting development.
“It’s PCR in your back pocket, it’s so much quicker,” he said.
“If we have enough of these, then it will make an enormous, enormous difference.”
Dr Di Dio suspected both of the tests would be expensive, but the Department of Health said, at this stage, the pricing was unknown.
And despite both of them delivering fast results, it’s also still unknown how long patients themselves will have to wait to find out if they have coronavirus.
As Dr Di Dio points out, the quality of the technology is only as good as the resources you have to man the technology.
{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Muphin 27/03/2020, 6:24 am

    Have a look at the map and mark the countries where the Chines “Belt An Road” projects are being built. Almost every country marked on the map has been infected with this killer virus. Is China deliberately spreading this virus?

    Another oddity! The Chines military has reported NO infections amongst their millions in the armed forces?

    • Biking Voter 27/03/2020, 8:30 am

      The Chinese military now there is a trusted source of information.

      Nothing that comes out of China is to be trusted whether that be a cheap bicycle or information about COVID-19.

      They lie through their teeth if it means gaining any kind of advantage or to be able to save face.

      • Pepperpete 27/03/2020, 9:10 am

        100% correct BV.

    • Penguinite 27/03/2020, 9:16 am

      Not that I doubt that which you say, Muph, but where’s the map?

      • Muphin 27/03/2020, 2:25 pm

        “Have a look at the map” Any map Peng….

  • Knight Templar 27/03/2020, 8:40 am

    Governments reaction to the WUFLU is killing Australia…
    “At this time the alarmism and catastrophic predictions aren’t aligning with the facts” Cory Barnardi
    He is right…the loss of jobs, closure of businesses, lack of confidence is devastating…
    99% of WUFLU deaths would have been from other causes.
    Our Hapless PM and Bureaucrats are running around like headless chooks.
    The real test of leadership will be once this passes whether it will still be “business as usual” with China.
    I think it will… too much vested self interest in China with politicians to make changes,, Unfortunately for us.

    • Muphin 27/03/2020, 2:23 pm

      “WUFLU” I prefer to refer this Chines killing virus as “Kung Flu”.

  • ozisceptic 27/03/2020, 8:46 am

    The new test will probably look for the bodies reaction to COVID as I was not aware the virus was present in the blood stream. But I am as interested as anyone in the mechanics of it.

    • Lorraine 27/03/2020, 9:30 am

      if not in the blood stream, where else is the mechanics?????

  • Penguinite 27/03/2020, 9:22 am

    No one, least of all WHO, seems to really know what’s going on! Maybe we should call on Abbott and Costello for a “Who, What, When” break down. It might be more intelligent than what they’re telling us at the moment!


  • Lorraine 27/03/2020, 9:34 am

    We elected Scott Morrison and so pleased to oust the Bill Shorten, Hands up who thinks Scomo is indeed doing a better job than Bill Shortonforbrains would have done. I for one have both hands in the air. suck it up buttercup

    • Biking Voter 27/03/2020, 10:19 am

      All I can say to that Lorraine is that it is a given that electricity Bill would have done a worse job than Scotty from Marketing.

    • DT 27/03/2020, 10:39 am

      Lorraine I am beginning to realise that we live in a different perspective world to many others, maybe we read different information sources?

      • Lorraine 27/03/2020, 12:20 pm

        maybe that why we love the fact we were born in a Country that is allowed to have differing views. My view may differ, from yours, I will debate it without having to demonise you as a person. DT I am happy in my world, be it a fairy tale or real.. hope you are ok with that

    • Pensioner Pete 27/03/2020, 10:48 am

      Whilst we certainly missed a bullet with Shorten, Morrison is no leader, this reality is becoming increasingly apparent as each day goes by. Peter Dutton may be able to provide the leadership this nation so desperately requires at this time.

      • Knight Templar 27/03/2020, 11:49 am

        Quite so Pensioner Pete

      • GTD 28/03/2020, 5:22 am

        Yep agreed ✔✔

  • Aktosplatz 27/03/2020, 12:04 pm

    There have also temperature tests been carried out. I had two this week, one of which was at the optometrists as I was collecting new specs. Also Sullivan and Nicolades are carrying out tests (don’t know how) if GP requests it.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan 27/03/2020, 12:05 pm

    Apparently we have had 12 deaths out of about 2800 cases or a death rate of about 0.45% so maybe all of we supposed cynics along with president Trump are right, the cure is worse than the disease. Then of course the medical people (think about Kerryn Phelps here) who are akin to the old Ansett ANA captains who knew everybloody thing have their two bobs worth when like cobblers they should stick to their lasts, plus the bloody government and the government stand over merchants.

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