The White House COVID-19 task-force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said that the US requires a ‘breakthrough’ in order to conduct large-scale coronavirus tests. 

She also added that with the present technology, it’s impossible to conduct individual testing.

Birx suggested that the breakthrough will be reached only if antigen testing is conducted. Antigen testing is also used to identify flu and strap, which are the protein coverings on the surface of the virus.

Antigen Tests vs Coronavirus Tests

The Antigen tests are different from the coronavirus tests. The time-consuming coronavirus tests try to identify the genetic composition of the virus. The process requires a variety of chemicals which are often short in supply. 

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antigen tests are less reliable than coronavirus tests but its simpler and requires only 15 minutes to provide results.

At the onset of this month, Birx said “There will never be the ability on a nucleic acid test to do 300 million tests a day or to test everybody before they go to work or to school. But there might be with the antigen test.”

Lack of Antigen Tests- Why?

Antigen tests are less reliable. Thus, the process of confirming the accuracy of the results is long. Because of its unreliability, up until now, the antigen tests did not have a big market.

Initially, the Coronavirus tests look for the gene sequence of the virus which takes several weeks. Once identified, tests were conducted. However, reports have cropped up of faulty kits. And because the test kits are so expensive, its availability has been hampered. 

In the case of antigen tests, they are fitted to the targeted virus’s 3D structure. Unfortunately, the structure is unclear, and identifying the coronavirus amidst all the other viruses is difficult.

The World Health Organization has warned people to slow their enthusiasm until more research on the Antigen test has been done.