Viewpoints » Diagnosing covid-19: Barriers to pandemic planning

10/28/2021Viewpoint

Diagnosing covid-19: Barriers to pandemic planning

We don’t know. The symptoms of the disease are nonspecific, and many people are not even aware they carry the virus. In fact, the CDC estimates that 40% of people with coronavirus symptoms show no symptoms, with other researchers suggesting the rate may be even higher.

Diagnosing covid-19: Barriers to pandemic planning

Who has covid-19? And where are they?

We don’t know. The symptoms of the disease are nonspecific, and many people are not even aware they carry the virus. In fact, the CDC estimates that 40% of people with coronavirus symptoms show no symptoms, with other researchers suggesting the rate may be even higher.

That’s a big problem. Studies have shown that asymptomatic hosts are as likely to transmit the disease as those visibly suffering from it — and likely even more, given that asymptomatic people who don’t know they’re infected don’t know to quarantine. The ability of the virus to hide in plain sight has resulted in a global pandemic.

The covid-19 epidemic became a full-blown global pandemic in just a few months and testing has been unable to keep pace with the spread of the virus. Lockdowns, masks, and quarantines have helped limit infection, but inconsistent messaging on their effectiveness has hurt public trust. Meanwhile, blanket quarantines and lockdowns have serious economic repercussions.

 

Freedom from the lab

In the absence of an effective vaccine, testing and other public health measures are the cornerstone of containment. Among the most visible of those tests is the dependence on lab-bound molecular tests such as PCR, which is considered the gold standard of testing. However, long wait times, limited personnel, the need to transport test samples — the logistics of testing an entire nation for a pathogen are immense. Medical systems are overloaded, and materials — even simple nasal swabs — are in short supply. Nonetheless, governments and physicians are right to avoid compromising on test accuracy, given that false negatives (incorrect test results indicating the absence of infection) have severe consequences.

Early in the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) prioritized the development of point-of-care molecular tests. The reason is clear: to decouple accurate diagnoses from the delay-causing complexities of lab-centralized testing procedures and personnel.

The problem of delay has existed within diagnostics since the inception of the industry. Having yet to be solved, it hurts the patient-physician relationship, contributes to over-prescription and antimicrobial resistance, and results in fewer serious infections diagnosed. Covid-19 has made finding a solution a global imperative.

In 2013, Visby theorized a solution for bringing accurate and reliable diagnoses out of the lab, realizing that if lab-accurate infection diagnoses were prolific and simple to use, many of the stresses to the medical system would be moot. After many years of research and testing, Visby’s Personal PCR is ready to deliver diagnoses beyond the point of care to the point of need. Making diagnoses truly prolific requires that anyone be able to make an accurate diagnosis anywhere — even in their own home.

 

Freedom from fear

Imagine you are a frontline healthcare worker heading home after work, knowing you’ve likely been exposed to Covid-19, but not knowing if you are infected. Imagine moving into your garage or staying at a hotel to protect your family. Imagine this continuing for months on end.

Now imagine a world where lab-accurate test results are available immediately.

Visby developed Personal PCR to take lab-accurate diagnoses out of centralized medical systems and deliver it into the hands of ordinary people. And that’s exactly what the company has done — on both an individual and communal level. Personal PCR protects you, your loved ones, and society at large.

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