PCR and COVID-19: Limitations and value

To get this pandemic under control, we need to conduct proper testing. Testing is a crucial element in managing any viral outbreak to track infected individuals and the general spread of the disease. This testing is especially essential why the disease in question often results in asymptomatic cases.  

It allows medical professionals to identify infected individuals that need to stay isolated to contain the disease. A lot of testing performed was through PCR tests. The big question is – was this the right way to go?

What is PCR 

PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests refer to a technique used to detect active infections. Medical professionals take samples from suspected individuals and run them through a unique process that looks to amplify the presence of specific viruses.  

These tests target specific genetic samples and force them to replicate rapidly. It makes the presence of the particular DNA holders apparent enough to observe and detect. PCR tests are a popular tool in controlling the current corona pandemic. While society relied heavily on these tests’ accuracy in the last months, itessential to acknowledge this technique’s limitations 

Putting PCR to the test  

Although PCR is a powerful tool, its not without its flaws. Studies demonstrate that this technique is not always 100% accurate. Researchers put it to the test during a study from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

105 healthcare workers in Long Island, New York, underwent corona PCR testing. These healthcare workers exhibited signs of infectionOf the 105 tested, about 58% of them tested positive. Further investigations found that nearly 99% of them later produced corona antibodies (confirming the infection).  

On the other hand, of the 42% of participants testing negative, 20.5% still had antibodies. These results mean that about 80% of individuals who tested negative were negative. Statistically, these demonstrated a positive predictive value of 0.98 and negative predictive value of 0.80.  

Limitations vs. value  

This study demonstrated the harsh truth that these tests are not 100% accurate. To those outside of research and medicine, it may be discouraging. The thing is that no test is entirely perfect. Many testing techniques come with risks and limitations that we often ignore. 

In terms of pure statistical value, these PCR tests were pretty promising. Although they are not perfect, they are highly accurate. As the research community continues testing optimization, we hope that these numbers improve over time. Additionally, retesting and adhering to responsibly social distancing guidelines helps keep infected individuals isolated and restricts the spread of disease.  

Overall, PCR is a concrete way to test for coronavirus. In these uncertain times, we need to take all the help we can get.  

Are you looking for affordable and reliable testing solutions? Our cutting-edge facilities at PCR-DX may help. Our talented team of individuals is here to give you the information you need about the latest testing news and services.  

About PCR-Dx Diagnostic 

At PCR-Dx Diagnostic, our mission is to provide our physician and practitioner clients and their patients with cutting-edge, all-inclusive PCR-based diagnostic services. Our goal is to enable medical professionals to make quick and accurate diseases diagnoses on their patients in line with our motto of “accurate testing and fast results.” 

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