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Friday, February 26, 2021

Qatar to introduce ‘quick’ COVID-19 tests

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The diagnostic test is currently in its experimental phase.

A new diagnostic test that can quickly detect COVID-19 is expected to be introduced into Qatar’s medical sector shortly, authorities said.

The antigen test is a rapid screening method performed by inserting the nose swab into a testing card after adding drops of regulator solution. Results are made available within ten minutes, unlike the regular PCR test that requires at least two days.

“There are a number of methods to test and diagnose COVID-19. First is Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, which is regarded as the most accurate test, performed by taking a swab from the throat and nose,” Dr. Einas Al-Kuwari, Chairperson, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC] said.

“Second is the serological test for detection of antibodies done by taking blood samples and third is the antigen rapid testing,” she added.

Dr. Al-Kuwari said current research is being conducted on people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as high temperature and coughing. So far, the test has a 97% accuracy rate, she said. 

Read also: COVID-19 vaccine ‘free for all in Qatar’, ministry says

“In addition to manual rapid antigen testing, there is also automated screening by using specific devices. Currently, we have started the experimental phase of using these devices in collaboration with certain HMC departments,” said Dr. Al-Kuwari.

The antigen diagnostic tests, which are expected to be available soon in Qatar, quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs.

A positive test result can be detected either as a fluorescent glow or as a dark band on the paper strip.

Qatar has pumped up its efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and has recently confirmed access to the much-anticipated vaccine will be free of charge for all in the country.

Despite the progress, and until the vaccine is finally available, authorities have called on residents to maintain social distancing guidelines.


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