April 16, 2021

Coronavirus and rapid swabs in schools: where can they be done?


What are quick swabs?
THE quick swabs or antigen test detect the presence of the virus in infected individuals. As in the traditional swab, the sampling takes place with sticks inserted in the nostrils and pharynx. This test is based on the detection of viral proteins (antigens) present in respiratory secretions. They are already used in Italy in airports for mass screening of passengers returning from risk areas.

How long does it take to get an answer?
It depends on the models, from a few minutes to a maximum of half an hour. The answer of the type yes / no as for the pregnancy kits. No special training is required for reading and the outcome does not require laboratory tools.

Are quick swabs reliable?
They have a sensitivity of 80-85%, lower than traditional tampons: recognize about 80-85 out of 100 infected. A positive result is generally reliable while, given the lower sensitivity of the molecular test, it is possible that false negative results may be obtained. Some positives could therefore escape.

If they are not 100% reliable why use them?
They are considered useful for carrying out rather fast mass screening or in any case to identify infected people with a high viral load. Those who test positive will be subjected to a traditional swab to confirm positivity. They will be useful in arriving at a differential diagnosis in suspected cases of influenza or Covid that present the same symptoms. With rapid tests it will be faster to make decisions about possible quarantine measures.

Will Quick Swabs Arrive in Schools?
The Minister of Health Roberto Speranza announced that 5 million rapid tests are on the way to be used in schools. Some regions such as Veneto and Liguria have already provided for a series of screening in some schools on a voluntary basis with the prior consent formed by the parents.

Will we be able to do the quick test at the pediatrician or our doctor?
In the Sunday meeting, the CTS, with the aim of streamlining procedures and lightening the work of the Ats, has provided the opportunity for pediatricians and general practitioners to perform swabs and swabs. With a circular the Ministry of Health will receive this indication but we do not yet know if everyone will adhere to the invitation for a matter of safety and organization. La category appears divisa: a part of the doctors available to perform rapid tests on asymptomatic subjects who have not had direct contact with patients positive for the virus (screening), provided that the tests are provided directly by the ministry (without therefore having to worry about the supply) . Others argue that it is not possible to create separate paths in medical offices between suspected cases of Covid and other patients, with the risk that the clinics become places of contagion.

12 October 2020 (change October 12, 2020 | 11:26)

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