Convenience stores sell self-examination kits.
/Photography by Choi Yu-ri
With more than 300,000 new confirmed cases a day, the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating. In addition, unlike last year, the method of receiving COVID-19 tests has changed several times this year, which is causing considerable confusion to the people. Unlike in previous years, when anyone could undergo Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, this year, free PCR tests are available only if self-examination kits or rapid antigen tests are positive or for those who are from a high. And as of March 14th, the quarantine guidelines have been changed once more, and only if positive in the PCR test results and the rapid antigen test, will be finally confirmed positive. In addition, unlike in the past, when infected with COVID-19, issues related to COVID-19 continue to change, such as self-isolation at home for a week. As such, policies related to COVID-19 continue to change, and there are many stories surrounding the test method of COVID-19.
There are many ways to test COVID-19
There are three main ways to determine whether you are positive or negative for COVID-19. The methods include PCR, rapid antigen testing, and a self-testing kit. The PCR test is a genetic analysis test method called a comprehensive enzyme chain reaction that amplifies and finds specific genes. In addition, this method is the most accurate and reliable test adopted by the world as a standard for testing COVID-19 confirmed patients.
Next is a rapid antigen test. This method examines the presence or absence of antigens, a coronavirus protein, by scratching the nasopharynx, the deepest part connected to the roof of the mouth, through the nostrils with a long cotton swab, and collecting samples. Cotton swabs go in at least 10 cm, so you may feel pain compared to self-diagnosis kits. It is a test conducted by a skilled expert such as a doctor and a nurse because it is almost impossible for the public to collect nasopharyngeal mucosa on their own. It has a characteristic that the accuracy is much higher than that of the self-testing kit. It was named a rapid antigen test since it reveals whether COVID-19 was found in 15 to 30 minutes.
Finally, there is an inspection method through a self-testing kit. It is a kit that allows COVID-19 tests to be performed at home, not at public health centers or screening clinics. It is a method of examining the presence or absence of antigens, a coronavirus protein. It is less painful because the nasal mucosa is collected as a sample, not by scratching the deep nasopharynx. Each person can purchase up to six units at pharmacies or convenience stores. The nasal mucosa is less sensitive due to the small amount of virus itself. Therefore, it has a characteristic that the probability of diagnosis is very low when tested on asymptomatic patients. In addition, since individuals conduct tests, there is a higher possibility of inaccurate test results. Therefore, it is important to follow the procedure and method as directed, and the method of use is as follows. After washing hands, put on sanitary gloves, take out a cotton swab, put about 1.5 to two centimeters in the nostrils, and stir 10 times in both noses. Then, open the cap of the sample extraction solution container, stir it 10 times in the solution, remove it as if squeezing a cotton swab, attach a nozzle cap to the solution container, and drop three to four drops of the solution in the specimen area marked S. After checking the test results 15 to 30 minutes later, the kit is placed in the envelope and discarded. If there is a line on both the control line and the test line, it is positive. Even if there is a faint line, it is treated as positive. If there is no line on both the control line and the inspection line or if there is only one line on the inspection line, it is an inspection error, and if the kit is defective, it should be re-examined with a new kit. Also, if there is a line only on the control line, it is negative.
Several opinions exist surrounding the COVID-19 self-testing
As mentioned above, there are three main ways to test for COVID-19, and many people have been sharing their opinions on the self-testing kit method. There are opinions that self-testing kits are less accurate than other methods. Recently, it has been found that there is a difference in the test results between using the nose and neck for the self-testing kit. One of the online rumors told about the experience that samples obtained from the throat, not from the nose, tested positive, which led to confirmation. It said tips were shared among people to examine the throat, not the nose. However, experts said that if the nose is negative, but the throat is positive, it is a phenomenon caused by different symptoms depending on the virus dose from time to time, and that the accuracy of the throat sample is not sufficient. He also said that swabbing the throat properly is not easy due to zone reflection, and if a cotton swab is broken while swabbing the neck and enters the lungs, it may cause aspiration pneumonia, and that swabbing the nose is the right way.
However, the fact that the results vary depending on where the sample is taken also confused many people. In addition, although it has an accuracy of 90%, the results of the self-testing kit could be negative several times, even if the result came out as positive in PCR tests. It raised doubts about its credibility and accuracy. According to student A, she said, “After eating with an acquaintance, the acquaintance was confirmed positive for COVID-19. My self-testing kit was negative, but my muscle pain worsened, and body aches arose, leading to PCR tests. Eventually, I was diagnosed positive the next morning. When I used a self-testing kit, the results were inaccurate, so I thought it was less reliable.” In addition, according to the story of student B, “My sister said she had a sore throat and coughed, so she conducted the test using a self-testing kit. However, it was negative. It was obviously a symptom of COVID-19, but she was surprised that the negative result came out. So, she got a PCR test the next day, and the text result was positive.”
As such, not only doubts about the accuracy of self-inspection kits are incereasing, but also the problem of trading positive kits is occurring. Recently, an article selling a self-testing kit with a positive result was posted on a used trading platform, causing controversy. The seller posted an explanation saying, “We sell positive kits,” adding, “Get PCR tests comfortably.” The kit was set in the “other used goods” category, and the price was not specified. Since self-testing kits are prohibited from being sold, the used trading platform immediately deleted the sales text when it was posted. The kit sales article was posted because the self-inspection kit test must be positive to get the PCR test.
In addition, self-testing kits were scarce, causing inconvenience to people. Furthermore, as the government’s quarantine guidelines suddenly changed, the number of people looking for self-inspection kits increased, causing confusion at the distribution and sales site. As the situation became severe, the government rapidly increased the number of domestic item licensed products in a short period to stabilize the supply and demand. There were three domestic licensed products; Humasis; SD Biosensor; and Rapizen; but six products were urgently added due to a shortage of supplies.
However, self-testing kits did not only convey discomfort to people. It also gave the advantage of conducting a COVID-19 test much more conveniently and quickly than before. In the past, when people went to get PCR tests, there were many jokes that they might be infected with COVID-19 while standing in line because the line was too long, but the self-testing kit is safer and more convenient because it is a test conducted alone at home. In addition, it cannot be denied that self-examination kits have the advantage of being quick and convenient as you can know the results in 15 to 30 minutes compared to PCR tests that take three hours and a day to produce test results.
Although the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating these days, as face-to-face classes and attempts to recover from COVID-19 continue, it is necessary to check your physical condition while thoroughly managing hygiene on your own. In addition, since the COVID-19 quarantine guidelines continue to change frequently, it is essential to be familiar with them to minimize damage caused by COVID-19. There are various ways to test for COVID-19, and when you are in a doubtful physical condition or contact with a confirmed patient, you need to get tested quickly to minimize the risk of more infection. The Dongguk Post hopes that everyone will make efforts little by little and that the world of daily recovery without masks will arrive as soon as possible.
Choi Yu-ri firstname.lastname@example.org
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