With all the misconceptions, confusion and all-round deficiency of understanding on vital and basic concepts and procedures around COVID-19 testing, we sought to create a guide through the help of our Senior Director, Molecular and Biobank Operations, Dr Jumi Popoola, to distill all the information you need.
The Phases of COVID-19 RT-PCR testing
Phase 1– Collection: The procedure of COVID-19 RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing begins with an appointment at an NCDC accredited testing centre. Samples collected for this particular test are either nasopharyngeal (from the nose) and oropharyngeal (from the throat), and are collected with sample collection swabs, before being sent to the laboratory.
Phase 2– Detailing and Detection: At the lab, patient details are recorded and the sample is passed to the RNA extraction room where RNA is purified from the biological sample. It is then transferred to the PCR room where numerous copies of the RNA target sequence (a short area of interest within the RNA) are amplified to detect SARS-CoV-2. These primers detect the viral genome by identifying SARS-CoV-2 specific regions.
Phase 3– Interpretation: If two or three of these distinct viral regions are identified, the test result is said to be positive. If no regions are identified, then the result is negative. If one viral region is detected, then the region must be confirmed to be reproducible. If it is not, then it is concluded to be negative.The entire testing process takes about 5-6 hours from start to finish.
Phase 4– Verification: At this stage, the result analysis team in charge of quality control, cross checks all lab results to make sure they are acceptable and up to standard, before results are uploaded to the company portal.
Differences between COVID-19 Rapid test kits and RT-PCR testing
Rapid test kits are universally antibody-based tests. This means that they detect increased levels of immune system antibodies. A rise in antibody levels is usually in response to the presence of a pathogen such as SARS-COV-2 as the body sends out antibodies (in-built soldiers) to eliminate threats. Since antibodies linger long after a pathogen has been cleared from the system, they serve as a time-stamp in the blood, indicating that a pathogen/virus was once present. Hence, COVID-19 Rapid test kits are not confirmatory tests, since they cannot determine if an individual still carries the virus. Especially if such a person exhibits no symptoms.
The RT-PCR test, which we offer, on the other hand detects the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself for confirmatory results, as it is designed to give real-time data on the virus’ presence in a sample. The RT-PCR is also approved by the NCDC, FDA and WHO as the only COVID-19 confirmatory diagnostic test.
What to do when you test positive for COVID-19
A positive COVID-19 test result is everyone’s greatest fear and we understand why. A positive test can appear rather terrifying. However, it is important to not panic. Your first course of action should be reaching out to your physician or hospital immediately to discuss a treatment plan, or self-isolate for 14 days if you do not show symptoms yet, as advised by your physician.
COVID-19 is not terminal if you are healthy (without any underlying ailments), as a healthy body is strong enough to fight the virus on its own. Although, the duration needed for this to be achieved varies across individuals. Some people need days to internally combat the virus, while some need weeks or even months. Several individuals who once tested positive to the virus but later tested negative have openly revealed that they were able to beat the virus by changing their diet, relaxing, and taking more vitamins, minerals and vegetables.
Will I be on NCDC’s radar after testing positive for COVID-19?
In regards to confidentiality of test results, the NCDC has visibility on all patient data, including contact name and address, etc. It is imperative they know which Nigerians test positive as a prerequisite, should they need to initiate contact tracing. They are approved by the Federal Ministry of Nigeria to keep records of all tests, whether positive or negative, including the details of persons tested. But, it is also your civic duty to take the necessary precautionary steps such as self-isolation if you do not show any symptoms, or receive treatment from a hospital if you do, to avoid infecting anyone else.
Where can I book a test?
You’re in luck. Simply go on to this booking form to fill in your details and make payment for a test. Alternatively, please phone +234 700 342 466 7363 to speak to a company representative for more information around our COVID-19 testing services.