What We’ve Learned About COVID-19

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COVID 19 Then Now Blog Post Header Featured Img

What We’ve Learned About COVID-19

What We’ve Learned About COVID-19

COVID 19 Then Now Blog Post Header Featured Img

A Timeline of COVID-19

In December 2019, an outbreak of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) ensued in Wuhan, China, which lead to a global pandemic that supervened upon the year 2020. Due to the rapid spread of the virus, experts began to work tirelessly on gathering information and data about COVID-19 to navigate through the unpredictable impact in its entirety.

In March 2020, more than 120 countries reported confirmed cases and many, including the United States began to prohibit unnecessary travel and closed their borders to slow down the spread of Covid-19. Most people were quarantined in their homes for various periods of time and it was recommended or mandated to stay on lockdown, wear masks, follow strict safety procedures and protocols to assist in reducing the spread of the virus that was not yet fully understood.

The Major Differences

Symptoms

Symptoms of Covid-19 as we've learned about them

COVID-19 affects people in many ways. In the beginning, healthcare officials warned the public to be aware of symptoms including a fever, congestion, and shortness of breath. As the virus spread through a multitude of people, we began to realize that the virus was not strictly respiratory. Some symptoms that have since been reported were arrhythmias and heart attacks, a loss of taste or smell, damaged kidneys or livers, headaches, blood clots, rashes, swelling, and strokes.

Symptoms Known Then:

  • Fever or Chills
  • Congestion
  • Shortness of Breath

Symptoms Known Now:

  • Fever or chills
  • Congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headaches

 

  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Blood clots
  • Damaged kidneys or liver
  • Heart attack
  • Strokes

Masks

How guidance on masks has chagned

In early March, the CDC recommended only those infected or at high risk, and those caring for them should wear masks to reduce exposure. Later, the recommendation changed after studies showed that a large number of coronavirus patients are asymptomatic, and could transmit the virus unknowingly by coughing, sneezing, and speaking around others.

Advice Then:

  • Wear a mask if you are high risk
  • Wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms

Advice Now:

  • Wear a mask at all times when in public
  • Wear a mask when around anyone not in your household

Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, the public has always been advised to take the precautionary measures of washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer regularly, coughing into your elbow, avoid touching your face, limit contact with those not in your own household, and to limit travel outside of your home – especially when experiencing symptoms.

 

Testing

How Testing for Covid-19 has progressed

When a virus is prefaced with “novel” like the novel Coronavirus COVID-19, that denotes the virus is new and therefore tests or vaccines do not yet exist. At this point testing is well underway, but when first started, samples were required to be collected via a nasopharyngeal swab. This swab would be inserted through the nasal passage along the nasal floor all the way back to the nasopharynx. This process is uncomfortable for the patient, and requires extensive PPE to be worn by the person collecting the sample as collection often leads to sneezing.

Collection Locations Then:

  • Nasopharyngeal

Collection Locations Now:

  • Nasopharyngeal
  • Oropharyngeal
  • Nasal
  • Mid-Tubinate

Luckily sample collection for testing has been expanded as testing assays have been developed to detect the novel Coronavirus in smaller amounts. Additionally transport media is being used to inactivate live samples to increase the safety of testers. You can read more about the different collection methods that can be used for a COVID-19 test on DTPM’s blog.

 

Spread

How Covid-19 spreads

At the start of the global pandemic, there were several misconceptions about how the virus spread. Due to its rapid speed, experts had trouble keeping up with information. There was a lot of misconception on how long the virus could live on surfaces or if it is airborne or not. Experts are gathering the latest international multilingual scientific findings and knowledge on COVID-19.

What we knew then:

  • Spread through respiratory droplets
  • Live on metal and plastic surfaces for hours after contact
  • Spread by symptomatic individuals coughing and sneezing

What we know now:

  • Can be spread through airborne transmission in special circumstances
  • Live on metal and plastic surfaces for two or three days
  • Carried asymptomatically and spread unknowingly

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid those who have been exposed.

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

 

What We Have Learned

What we've learned about Covid-19

Scientists and global health professionals have been working tirelessly to gather information and navigate through scientific findings that will help understand and treat COVID-19. In the United States, there is currently no authorized or approved vaccine to prevent coronavirus (COVID-19). However, according to the CDC, Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are under development, and as of October 13, 2020, four vaccines have begun large-scale (phase 3) clinical trials.​

We have learned so much over the past eight months and gaining ground against this global pandemic. There have been great strides to develop more accurate and efficient testing options as well as the development of a safe and effective vaccine. COVID 19 has taken over 2020 and so many are making great strides to continue to discover as much as we can and as fast as we can, so we can save more lives.


How Tide Labs and DTPM Are Doing Their Part

Tide Labs has been working in conjunction with its partner company DTPM to perform testing for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). DTPM provides the testing supplies we need, including their EUA Approved SARS-CoV-2 Assay COVID-19 RT-PCR Test. Offering a multiplex option and our in-house PCR run time of less than an hour. Read more information about how DTPM is helping make strides with faster and more accurate testing options, or contact us about testing for COVID-19 today.


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Separating Symptoms by Cold, COVID-19, and Influenza

Are your symptoms from a cold or covid-19

Is it COVID-19 or Just a Cold?

Symptoms that may not have caused much alarm this time last year are having a bigger impact now that the new strain of coronavirus, COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), is in the world. A cold is simple to get over and won’t have much of a lasting impact. Influenza cases are on the rise as the temperatures change, and while more difficult to heal from than a cold, the flu is much less lethal than COVID-19 has proven to be.

So, which do you have? Let’s review the symptoms, but to be absolutely certain we recommend contacting us for a COVID-19 test.

Symptoms Shared Across the Cold, the Flu, and COVID-19

If you are experiencing the below symptoms, in any level of severity, you may have either a cold, the flu, or possibly coronavirus:

  • Sore throat or cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headache
  • Fever or chills
  • Some may experience vomiting and diarrhea (more commonly children)

Normally we can differentiate between a cold and the flu based on the severity of symptoms. However, due to the coronavirus’s symptoms being anywhere from non-existent to life-threatening in severity, there is an extra layer of complexity.


Symptoms Unique to the Common Cold

Cold Symptoms Tide

The best-case scenario is that you have a minor cold which will go away on its own. Symptoms of a cold usually peak within 2-3 days after catching it. Below are symptoms unique to the common cold:

  • Watery eyes
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Sneezing

Less likely to experience the following shared symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Very unlikely to be causing vomiting or diarrhea

Unlike the flu, colds do not usually develop into more serious health problems that lead to hospitalization (such as pneumonia or bacterial infections). Additionally, cold symptoms tend to be milder than those caused by influenza.


Symptoms of Influenza vs Common Cold

In the event that you are experiencing symptoms that are too severe to be a simple common cold, you may have the flu. Influenza is more dangerous than the common cold and can lead to severe respiratory complications, hospitalization, or even death.

Symptoms of the Flu by commanlity.Symptoms of the flu, but not the cold:

  • Fever or feeling chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

Compared to the common cold or coronavirus, symptoms of the flu develop rapidly. You may recover from your flu symptoms within two weeks or as soon as a few days. It is recommended you receive a yearly flu shot to lower your risk of being infected with the influenza virus.


Symptoms Unique to COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 by CommonalityThere are very few symptoms that are unique to COVID-19 and which would not be experienced for a common cold or more serious flu. There are two main symptoms to look out for:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of smell or taste

The shortness of breath experienced is similar to asthma in that it feels like you can’t get inhale to your lungs’ full capacity or may feel like you are breathing through a straw. There have been instances of a reduced sense of taste or smell when experiencing severe symptoms of the flu, but that decrease in sensation does not last as it would in the case of coronavirus infection.


What To Do If You Feel Sick

Self-quarantine to prevent yourself from infecting others. Even if you only have a common cold, be sure to stay away from groups, wear your mask, wash your hands often, and use hand sanitizer. If you begin experiencing symptoms shortly after receiving a flu shot, it’s most likely a reaction to the shot and you should be feeling better within a few days. If your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks or become severe in a short amount of time you should contact your doctor about being tested for COVID-19.

Be sure to call ahead to explain your symptoms before visiting a doctor’s office, an urgent care facility, or the emergency room. Healthcare providers will have special safety measures in place to deal with the highly contagious coronavirus strain which are very important to follow.

Due to the risk of being an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 all members of the household with a potentially infected individual should take extra precautions and self-quarantine as possible.


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QIAamp 96 High Throughput Method for DNA/RNA Extraction

Process 192 samples in approximately 1 hour with our High Throughput method

By utilizing the same chemistry in two 96-well plates, our QIAAmp 96 High Throughput method for DNA/RNA extraction allows you to process more samples in less time utilizing the Sigma 4-16S Centrifuge.

Contact your DTPM Sales Representative to discuss improving your laboratory’s efficiency, performance, and capacity.

QIAAMP 96-WELL EXTRACTION KIT

High-Throughput Purification of Viral RNA

Isolate DNA and RNA from viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with this 96-well high capacity kit.

QIAamp 96 Viral RNA KitDNA and RNA bind to a silica membrane and pure DNA and RNA is eluted in water or a buffer provided with the kit. Contaminants and inhibitors are completely removed.

By using two 96-well high capacity kits, laboratories are able to process up to 192 samples in approximately one hour.

Uniquely qualified to handle high throughput applications, the QIAamp 96-well extraction kit will allow your laboratory to quickly and safely extract DNA and RNA from a variety of sample matrices, including swab transport media and urine.

SIGMA 4-16S CENTRIFUGE

Sturdy, Powerful, and Versatile with Ease of Use

Highly Programmable

The user is able to enter and store up to 60 programs on this centrifuge, saving users time and streamlining processes for laboratory staff.

Customizable

The Sigma 4-16 Series is compatible with a variety of fixed-angle and swing-out rotors, as well as numerous buckets and adapters.

Ease of Use

The Sigma 4-16S comes with Sigma’s patented one-button control, making this machine especially easy to operate, regardless of experience.

Speed

With two 96 well plates, the Sigma 4-16S is capable of processing 192 samples in approximately one hour.

HighThroughputMethod SigmaAnalyzers


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Tide Labs: Because Results Matter

Introducing Our New Tagline: Because Results Matter

We’ve got a new tagline, and we want to talk about it! A slogan is a representation of a business in a few short words. To help us decide on what would represent our company, we ran a contest amongst employees to develop a slogan that accurately described the work we do at Tide Labs. Here’s how we came up with our new tagline, and what it promises for our clients.

The Competition Results

With nearly 50 entries to review, there was an obvious theme amongst our employees. Fast, accurate, dedicated, innovative were a few of the common themes within the submissions. But one word continuously showed up amongst entries: results.

Tide Labs: Because Results Matter

Why Results Matter

Tide Labs is committed to helping its clients get fast and accurate results. Diagnostics testing is used in 70% of decision making by healthcare officials according to the CDC. In other words, medical decisions depend on accurate and timely lab results. Lab results give doctors a better understanding of what is ailing their patients and can even help them save lives.

At Tide Labs, we pride ourselves on our fast and accurate testing results. To continue to be a leader in molecular testing, we must continue to prioritize the thing that matters most, the results. Faster results mean faster treatment which could result in saving a life. That is why results matter.

The Value of Molecular Diagnostics

Laboratories like Tide Labs impact the medical field on a daily basis through their use of molecular diagnostics. It’s more than just diagnosing a disease though. By diagnosing earlier, clinical laboratories are able to lower costs that are incurred through treatment. By detecting diseases sooner, a patient may be treated sooner, resulting in less intensive treatment and possibly shorter treatment times. This may also help physicians contact trace patients faster, helping to prevent the spread of viruses and decreasing the number of people needing hospitalization.

The life cycle of a lab test

Molecular diagnostics also offers a more personalized medical experience for patients. This is due to the nature of molecular testing. Molecular testing can detect genetic information about diseases and identify the unique genetic profile of individuals. Medical professionals can narrow down treatment to exactly what a patient needs. Learn more about the value of molecular diagnostics here.

Why Choose Tide Labs for Your Testing Needs?

Testing through methods like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) offers test results faster than ever before. Once the process of testing begins, results are available at Tide Labs in 2 hours and are communicated to physicians using our Laboratory Information System (LIS).

Now you can provide patients with the quickest and most accurate diagnosis possible! At Tide Labs, our PCR testing offers a variety of benefits. Our testing process will offer your patients an expedited result, thanks to the use of molecular diagnostics. PCR testing offers unmatched accuracy, meaning your patients can trust the result. Our collection methods are simple and our experienced laboratory staff is ready to help. Learn more about the PCR testing process here.

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All about the COVID-19 Test provided by Tide Laboratories

All About Our Coronavirus Panel

All about the COVID-19 Test provided by Tide Laboratories

As a high-complexity CLIA accredited laboratory, we assist clinicians and health care providers quickly identify the pathogens and underlying causes of disease. We offer a variety of panels for our clients’ testing needs. Our coronavirus panel is one such option.

Types of Pathogens Detected

While COVID-19 is certainly the virus that is on everyone’s mind, there are other types of coronaviruses out there. Our coronavirus panel detects a few different pathogens, including:

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus 229E
  • Coronavirus HKU1
  • Coronavirus NL63
  • Coronavirus OC43
  • Endogenous Control

Symptoms of COVID-19

Patients experiencing the following symptoms may be affected by COVID-19 and need testing.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
  • Body Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat

It’s important to note that these symptoms may look like the flu, allergies, or the common cold.

Graph of COVID-19 Symptoms compared to Flu and Cold symptoms

How do COVID-19 Tests Work?

In a nutshell, COVID-19 tests work in 4 steps. First samples are collected from the patient. For most coronavirus tests this is through a nasal swab. Next, a clinical laboratory extracts genetic material from the sample using chemical reagents.

The test then tries to replicate the genetic material using short sequences of single-stranded nucleic acid, called primers. If the primers match and replicate the viral DNA, then the test is positive. If not, then the test is negative. Either way, the test results are sent to your healthcare provider. At Tide Labs, lab results are uploaded into our state-of-the-art laboratory information system, so that your doctor as the results as quickly as possible.

Breakdown of how a COVID-19 Test works

For more details on each step, check out our article here.

When Should a PCR Test Be Chosen Over an Antibody Test?

If your healthcare provider believes that your symptoms are signs of a coronavirus, your health care provider will likely choose a PCR test to confirm. PCR tests look for virus-specific RNA within a patient to detect whether or not they are positive.

If you are no longer showing symptoms, your healthcare provider may ask you to take an antibody test. Antibody tests are used to detect whether a patient has been exposed to a virus. Antibodies are proteins that are induced by an infection (or vaccine) that are created to fight of the infection. A blood sample is often used for this type of test, and these tests should generally not be used to check for a current infection. Learn more about PCR test and Antibody test for COVID-19 on our website.

Why Choose Tide Labs for COVID-19 Testing?

Now you can provide patients with the quickest and most accurate diagnosis possible! At Tide Labs, our PCR testing offers a variety of benefits. Our testing process will offer your patients with an expedited result, thanks to the use of molecular diagnostics. PCR testing offers unmatched accuracy, meaning your patients can trust the result. Our collection methods are simple and our experienced laboratory staff is ready to help.

Contact us today for coronavirus testing by calling (256) 445-5000!


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Diagnostics Testing with Respiratory Panels

respiratory panel Blog Post Header Featured Img

Diagnostic tests are an important part of the clinical landscape. Respiratory infections are common and can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. Viruses account for a significant percentage of respiratory diseases. To ensure that the right treatment is prescribed, most medical professionals rely on clinical diagnostics tests.

What Does a Respiratory Panel Detect?

While respiratory panels can vary, at Tide Laboratories our respiratory panels detect the following:

Viruses Bacteria Fungal
  • Coronavirus HKU1
  • Coronavirus NL63
  • Coronavirus 229E
  • Coronavirus OC43
  • Human Metapneumovirus A/B
  • Human Rhinovirus
  • Human Enterovirus
  • Influenza A, B, C
  • Influenza A/H1-20G9
  • Parainfluenza Virus 1,2,3,4
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus
  • A/B Adenovirus
  • Bocavirus
  • Parechovirus
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Chlamydia pneumoniae
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Legionella
  • Haemophilus influenza B
  • Staphylococcus aureu
  • Reflex to MRSA
  • Salmonella Spp
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Bordetella Spp
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Pneumocystis Jirovecii (F)

 

When Should a Respiratory Panel be Used?

There are many common signs of respiratory infections. This includes fevers, aches, sore throats, and coughs. However, not everyone with symptoms requires a diagnostics test. A respiratory panel is primarily performed when a patient is seriously ill, hospitalized, and/or at risk for severe infection with complications or multiple infections. This is especially the case if an individual has signs and symptoms associated with an upper respiratory infection that has been prolonged and has not been resolved by treatment.

How are Respiratory Panel Samples Collected?

For a respiratory panel, a sample is collected from the back of the nose and throat through a nasopharyngeal swab. The patient must tip their head back and a swab is gently inserted through a nostril until resistance is met. This is about 1 to 2 inches. It is then rotated several times and withdrawn. This generally does not cause any pain. Many report a tickling sensation and eyes watering from the swab.

How is the Sample Tested?

For a respiratory panel and many of the testing methods at Tide Laboratories, many labs utilize molecular diagnostics testing. This has many benefits for clinical laboratories, including faster and more accurate test results. Learn more about the value of molecular testing on our website.

Why Should You Use Tide Laboratories for Your Molecular Testing Results?

It’s now easier than ever to provide patients with the quickest and most accurate diagnosis possible. Tide Laboratories utilizes PCR testing, which has proven to provide faster and more accurate results. According to the CDC, 70% of today’s medical decisions depend on laboratory results and over 14 billion lab tests are ordered annually. These tests are required for effective diagnosis and treatment of disease. Molecular testing has become a routine part of the healthcare industry.

We offer state-of-the-art drug testing services that meet the growing needs for accuracy, confidence, and legally defensible results. We serve a variety of clients, as diverse as medical facilities, doctor’s offices, treatment and detox centers, sports franchises, criminal justice agencies, commercial enterprises, and more.

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The Life Cycle of a Lab Test

Life Cycle of a Lab Test header image

The clinical laboratory is a major part of our healthcare system. A physician or other clinician orders a lab test for a multitude of reasons. This could be to diagnose, treat, manage, or monitor a patient’s condition. The life cycle of a lab test includes multiple facilities from start to finish to ensure accurate results.

Gathering the Sample

Once you visit a medical professional and they determine that additional testing is needed, the process begins with a collection of biological matter from the patient. For something like COVID-19, this could be a swab of the nasal cavity. You can learn more specifically about how COVID testing works on our website. Since there are different types of testing panels and bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens, there are many different ways to collect the sample. Your health care provider will let you know which method is right for the testing panel that you need. You can learn more about each testing panel on our website.

The Sample is Sent to a Clinical Lab

Once safely collected, the sample is packaged and sent to the clinical lab. Some labs, like Tide Labs, have laboratory information systems to help clinical facilities keep track of the samples throughout the process. This also helps keep their samples organized when shipping.

Testing Begins On the Sample

Some tests are manually evaluated, but most tests are performed using technical advanced instrumentation. At Tide Labs, we utilize cutting-edge polymerase chain reactions (PCR). PCR offers both rapid results and the most accurate sample analyses. PCR tests utilize genetic material from viral and bacterial pathogens combined with genetic material from the sample to see if there is a match.

Clinical Lab Communicates Results to the Medical Facility

The results of this test are gathered and reviewed by a lab technician. A lab technician ensures the accuracy of the results before sending the results to the medical facility. At Tide Labs, results are delivered via our advanced laboratory information management system. Our system allows results to be received quickly so that medical facilities will be able to interpret the results and treat their patient faster.

Medical Professional Interprets the Results

Once the test results are in the doctor’s hands, they must interpret the results to fit the best needs of the patient. The benefit of molecular testing is that it offers a more accurate and more in-depth look at the patient’s diagnosis and can shed light on unknown issues that may need to be taken into consideration. This allows medical professionals are able to provide more personalized care for their patients overall.

Medical Professional Communicates the Results to the Patient

The results are communicated to the patient after the medical professional’s review. Together both patient and doctor then discuss the diagnosis and treatment options that are best for the patient. Follow-up visits and testing may be requested by the medical professional. If so, the process is repeated.

Lab Testing Needs to Be Reliable, Accurate, and Fast

Lab testing has changed dramatically over the years. What used to take a few weeks to process, now can be analyzed within a few hours. At Tide Laboratories, we offer state-of-the-art drug testing services that meet the high standards of medical professionals everywhere. We offer reliable service while providing accurate and fast results.

We’ve worked with a diverse range of clients such as, medical facilities, treatment and detox centers, sports franchises, criminal justice agencies, commercial employers and industrial and manufacturing services. Our convenient online reporting allows facilities to access the results fast, to make diagnosing and treatment of patients faster.

Contact us today to learn more. Call 256-445-5000!

Life Cycle of a Lab Test graphic

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The Value of Molecular Diagnostics

Learn the Value of Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory Testing

Laboratories like Tide Labs have an immeasurable impact on diagnostic and treatment decisions made by health care providers. Diagnostics testing is used in 70% of decision making by healthcare officials according to the CDC. But they do more than just help healthcare providers diagnose a disease. Here are some of the reasons that laboratory testing is valuable.

Lowering Costs By Diagnosing Earlier

Clinical laboratory tests help lower costs by saving time (and lives) with early detection capabilities. Molecular diagnostics have come a long way in helping physicians identify and treat diseases. By detecting diseases sooner, treatment can often be quicker and shorter than assisting a patient who may need more intensive treatment. For example, if a patient is identified with a virus, physicians can trace who they had contact with to prevent further spread of the virus, thus decreasing the number of patients who may need hospitalization.

Diagnosing diseases early can also reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions. This saves on costs, both because patients are introduced to the right antibiotic more quickly, but it also serves to reduce antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses are not uncommon. It can take years, and a lot of money, to research and develop new antibiotics for resistant strains. You can learn more about Antibiotics and Antibiotic Stewardship from our partner DTPM.

Offering Personalized Medicine Based on Lab Testing Results

Because molecular testing can detect genetic information of diseases and identify the unique genetic profile of individuals, physicians can narrow down treatment options to exactly what the patient needs. This allows doctors to prescribe the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time.

Faster Results Means Faster Treatment

Testing through methods like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) offers test results faster than ever before. Once the process of testing begins, results are available at Tide Labs in 2 hours and are communicated to physicians using our Laboratory Information System (LIS). This

Stronger Local Economies By Providing Jobs

Most of America’s clinical laboratories support hundreds of thousands of employees across the nation. According to the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), 80% of the nation’s 322,488 clinical labs are operating as small businesses. With a talent pool as far-ranging as pathologists, biochemists, and medical laboratory scientists, there is no doubt that these businesses help serve local economies.


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How Do COVID-19 Tests Work?

How do COVID-19 Tests work - featured image
The first and most prevalent method used to detect COVID-19 is through molecular testing. The collection methods may vary slightly in reagents, all methods are used to detect specific parts of the viral genome. For COVID-19 tests, it starts with a nasal swab. Here’s how a COVID-19 test looks.

 

COVID-19 Testing Step 1: Collecting Viral SamplesStep 1: Collecting Viral Samples

A medical professional will swab inside of your nose to capture a sample containing viral particles. This swab is broken at the break line and placed in a sterile vial. After recording the collection, medical offices and testing centers will send the vial to the lab.

Though a nasal swab is what is used to test for COVID-19, there are other types of samples a doctor could collect for other types of tests. For example, if you are no longer having symptoms of COVID-19 but suspect that you have had it in the past, a blood sample might be taken to test for COVID-19 antibodies. However, the most effective way to detect is a person currently has COVID-19 is through molecular testing.

 

COVID-19 Testing Step 2: Extracting Genetic Material From the SampleStep 2: Extracting Genetic Material From the Sample

Once your sample makes it to the lab, the next step is to extract genetic material from the virus to determine what has infected you. This process involves breaking open the viral genome (RNA) using chemical reagents to the sample and repeatedly spinning it in a centrifuge. Not all viruses use RNA to carry their genetic material; some use DNA. In particular, COVID-19 uses RNA.

 

COVID-19 Testing Step 3: Copy DNA from the RNAStep 3: Copy DNA from the RNA

The RNA found in the sample is copied and combined with the building blocks for DNA and special enzymes that copy the RNA code into DNA. The new DNA must be copied multiple times so that there is enough to study it. This is called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Short sequences of DNA that are unique to COVID-19, or other pathogens are added to the sample. If these sequences, called primers, match up with the DNA sequences then the DNA replicates.

 

COVID-19 Testing Step 4: Communicating the ResultStep 4: Communicating the Result

If the primers associated with COVID-19 match and the genetic material replicates, then the COVID-19 pathogen is present in the sample. Based on the volume of replication a positive or negative result is determined. A positive result means that the person is infected and considered to be able to transmit the disease.

If there is no SARS-COV-2 in the sample, then the primers won’t copy any genetic material and the test is negative. A negative result cannot tell whether a person is immune from a past infection or has yet to be exposed and is still in danger of getting the virus.

Results are identified within a few hours of the start of the test. Once results are confirmed by a lab technician, they are communicated to the healthcare provider.

 

Why Molecular Testing is Important

Molecular testing has become a routine part of the healthcare industry. PCR testing has proven to provide faster and more accurate results. According to the CDC, 70% of today’s medical decisions depend on laboratory results and over 14 billion lab tests are ordered annually. These tests are required for effective diagnosis and treatment of disease.


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Molecular Tests versus Antibody Tests for COVID-19

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Currently, there are two types of tests for COVID-19: a molecular reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and an antibody test. Both tests are used to detect COVID-19 but it’s important to know when to use each of them.

Molecular Testing Through RT-PCR

The RT-PCR technique targets a specific segment of the virus’ genetic material to detect the presence of COVID-19. In other words, this test looks for virus-specific RNA within a patient to detect whether or not they are positive for COVID-19. This is done using a nasal sample from a patient that is currently infected.

If you are showing symptoms or believe that you have COVID-19, your healthcare provider may choose this test to confirm.

Testing for Antibodies

Antibody tests are used to detect whether a patient has been exposed to the virus. Antibodies are proteins that are induced by an infection (or vaccine) that are created to fight off the infection. Antibody tests are used for those who feel they have had the virus but have shown only mild or no symptoms. Antibodies are often studied when searching for a vaccine, and there are several antibodies being studied for use in a coronavirus vaccine across the world.

While this test can sometimes detect whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19, it is not as effective in detecting current infections. According to the CDC, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose COVID-19.

TideLaboratories PCR Antibody Infographic

Why is Testing For COVID-19 Important?

The coronavirus has disrupted the lives of millions across the globe and can be found on nearly every continent. Though this has effected millions just within our own borders, there are some public health experts who believe that the number is too low due to lack of testing availability. Accurate, high volume testing is critical to containing and controlling this virus, ensuring we are able to diagnose, isolate, and treat those with COVID-19. Proper diagnosis can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if a patient is not showing symptoms.

Tide Laboratories Offers COVID-19 Testing. Click Here to Learn More!


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