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Tuberculosis and COVID: Can There Be Some Associations
Ever since WHO declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as pandemic we have seen the virus upending everyday life across the globe and affecting everyone as we speak. The prolonged periods of social isolation have changed the way we live our everyday lives. While it continues to mutate and produce successive waves of infection, it persists to pose a great threat to mankind across the globe. Even with a great global initiative of vaccinating billions of people, experts aren’t sure as to what we should expect next. The COVID virus is still finding its way into our lives. Get tested if you doubt having symptoms. Book COVID RT-PCR here. Over the past couple of years global efforts have been put forward to understand the pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of covid19. It is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV2), a member of the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) family. The members of this viral family, have been known to produce respiratory, enteric, hepatic and neurological disease in several animals and on occasions have shown ability to cross species and affect humans. To date only 7 types of coronaviruses have been found to cause disease in humans. The members of this viral family are a common pathogen to cause common cold in humans. The symptoms in affected individuals are mostly limited to respiratory tracts with fever, sore throat, and body aches being common. Some individuals may even remain asymptomatic or may have mild abdominal discomfort. Studies have shown that in most asymptomatic individuals and those recovering after milder symptoms, the virus remains localised to the upper respiratory tract and seldom reaches the lung. However, in the lungs, the virus attacks the type 2 epithelial cells hampering normal gas exchange and causing oxygen desaturation in the body. Still, why some individuals develop the pulmonary phase of disease or develop massive cytokine storm whereas most others get away with much milder courses of disease is less understood. COVID and TB As COVID 19 presents with predominant respiratory symptoms, it becomes imperative to keep another older airborne disease of tuberculosis in mind. Both of them affect the lungs and have overlapping symptoms like fever, weight loss and sore throat such that at times distinguishing tuberculosis symptoms from COVID-19 becomes difficult. Think that long-standing coughs are due to exposure to TB bacteria? Book a Genexpert test and clear all doubts. Apart from the various clinical similarities in presentation, both the diseases are also affected by identical social determinants like overcrowding, poor hygiene and comorbidities. So we should always keep TB symptoms and treatment in mind while treating COVID-19 patients. Certain studies suggest that patients affected with TB are not only more likely to be infected with COVID-19 but are also more susceptible to adverse COVID outcomes. So it becomes imperative to identify both the clinical entities separately although both of them affect the lungs but they have separate tests with Tuberculosis treatment entirely separate from protocols for managing COVID-19 along with distinct clinical outcomes. TB treatment might involve taking a number of medications for 6 to 12 months and needs strict adherence to the medicine schedule. In recent times diagnosis of TB have seen a paramount shift and Genexpert mtb is the most commonly performed test. The Genexpert test is a fully automated advanced genetic method for diagnosis of TB using relatively small quantities of sample in a relatively small span of time. It not only allows rapid diagnosis but also provides information regarding rifampicin resistance, so it’s also called MTB rif commonly. Genexpert TB test detects both live and dead TB bacilli as well as distinguishes them from the non-tubercular bacilli. With global efforts likely diverted to tackle this pandemic it is expected to have a huge and everlasting impact on global tuberculosis control targets, meaning millions of new cases may go undiagnosed globally. Need to book a test and know the TB test price? Check at metropolis.com. Some experts and studies have recommended routine screening for TB among suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in countries with high TB burden. It is pivotal that the world does not take its eyes off TB during the pandemic. As TB still remains to be a leading cause of death globally, efforts need to be redirected in missing out on diagnosis of these new cases with help of tuberculosis tests as well as providing support to existing ones. Take a little extra care ThoughCOVID is caused by a virus and TB due to a bacteria, the risk of both infections can be reduced by using a few simple precautions: ● Good ventilation in the residential area and indoors ● Maintain personal hygiene. Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing reduces the spread of germs ● Get tested and consult a doctor on suspecting symptoms.
How Do You Know If it is Omicron: Are the Symptoms Any Different?
Amid the coronavirus disease surge, it is sometimes challenging for a layman – when faced with symptoms also resembling that of common cold or influenza – to be sure of whether they are infected with Omicron. With weekend curbs and night curfew being relaxed again, we should be still on track to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Whether Delta or Omicron, knowing about the symptoms and getting tested remains the key to fight against COVID. Accolades to the Government of India’s successful vaccination drive, though the cases are restricted but we still find Omicron showing flashes of the Delta variant. With much under discussion with respect to the symptoms, severity and effect of the dose of vaccine for this new variant, the rising cases have stirred certain fear and panic among the people, owing to the uncertainty following it. With the strain being relatively new, and data being limited, looking at the number of cases, in the current scenario, expert’s advice to get vaccinated and follow the COVID protocols seriously. Are the symptoms of Omicron any different from the previous variants? Omicron – the new, highly transmissible variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, has taken the world by storm, driving up daily COVID-19 cases in exceptional measures. Although there currently is a debate among public health professionals and infectious diseases experts on how “mild” the Omicron variant really is on humans, a number of medical researches have pointed to its feeble attack on the lungs that could make it less dangerous than the other, more fatal variants which came prior, such as Delta. Doctors say, the symptoms caused by this Omicron virus, are more or less the same as of the other COVID variants. At large, the symptoms are common and include a sore throat, runny nose, tiredness and fatigue, and mild fever. A majority of people who have been affected by Covid-19 new Omicron variant, show mild symptoms that subside within a week. While the course is being monitored by the Government in connection with the Health department and renowned scientists and researchers, how easily the new variant spreads, what is the severity of this one, or are the current vaccines and other medications effective towards it, the data is still evolving. While the causes may be similar, there are certain signs that require medical attention when it comes to being infected with Omicron. Patients should watch out for difficulty in breathing, dip in their oxygen level, Sp02 being less than 94% in room temperature, or constant pain and uneasiness in the chest accompanied by mental confusion etc. However, experts and doctors have reported that the percentage of serious and severe patients was comparatively less than the Delta variant, especially during the second wave, cases escalated very quickly, and that such a trend has not been observed till yet in Omicron. On the other hand, kids have been seen to experience high fever that may not go too soon with medicines and cough with Omicron infections. "It is unknown whether the mild clinical syndromes or differing symptom descriptions are a result of existing immunity or altered clinical features associated with omicron infection," CDC said. Make sure to get tested and isolated under a doctor’s supervision if you see symptoms. Book COVID RT-PCR here. Is the treatment similar? Based on the genetic makeup of Omicron, scientists believe, some treatments can remain effective, while others might not be so. Doctors at prestigious medical institutes of India, say that the treatment is mostly symptomatic. People with severe disease might require oxygen or ventilator support. In the new variant, while most people are shown to have mild to moderate symptoms, the ones who had to be hospitalised included cancer patients, low immunity or the ones suffering from chronic diseases. Most of the hospitalised ones currently are either elderly patients or ones with some existing comorbidities. The vaccines we are putting currently can protect us against the severity and prevent hospitalizations leading to deaths. With the Omicron variant, however, we are seeing a breakthrough in those who have already fallen a victim to the previous variants. With uncertainty looming over the variants, its causes, and medications, it is best advised to get yourself fully vaccinated, as to reduce the severity and the chances of getting hospitalised. Especially with the emergence of this new variant, the importance of vaccinations and boosters cannot be stressed enough. Prevention being better than cure In wake of this new variant, epidemiologists and virologists say that vaccination is the best way to tackle the pandemic situation. Doctors’ advice to continue wearing masks, following social distancing and hand hygiene. While with Omicron’s immune evasion capabilities, the chances of reinfection have increased, vaccines will largely protect everyone. In the coming months, with fluctuations in temperature, respiratory infections, coughs and cold are common. One might misjudge them to be weather related, or what could actually be in the form of Covid symptoms, so it is best to get tested, avoid cramped, closed and crowded places, wear proper medicated masks, practice hygienic measures and stay safe. The RT-PCR tests continue to remain the most steadfast and accurate way of detecting a potential Covid-19 infection. Book your slot here.
Are you immune to COVID-19 if you get it once?
What the whole world is desperately waiting for in the current times is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. How will a vaccine against the coronavirus help us save from the pandemic? So, the entire game is about getting immunity to COVID-19. Immunity provides protection against catching the infection. One question that has gained everyone’s attention is could you be immune to COVID-19 if you had been infected once? This holds a lot of importance as people who have once recovered from COVID-19 will be able to return back to work or travel freely, considering that they are safe. However, if they are not, it can lead to COVID-19 reinfection, further spread, and pose risk to people’s lives. Have common cold-like symptoms that you think could be COVID-19? Get tested for coronavirus at home and be assured. Antibodies and immunity to COVID-19 As soon as any virus attacks you, yourbody’s defense system naturally responds immediately. This helps slow the progress of the virus and may even prevent it from causing symptoms. This first response is followed by a more advanced, specific response where your body makes protective molecules, called antibodies that bind to the virus and inactivate it. These antibodies are specific for a particular type of infection, which means, if you have antibodies against poliovirus, your body gets immune to that virus. Similarly, if you have antibodies to COVID-19, you can become immune to the coronavirus. When a person gets infected with COVID-19, his or her body makes protective antibodies specifically to fight COVID-19, which help in clearing the virus from the body and allow recovery from the infection. Please note that the amounts of antibodies formed and the level of immunity that they confer might differ from person to person, depending on various factors such as the individual body response, age, and overall health status. The WHO continues to review the evidence on antibody responses to coronavirus infection. Most of these studies have shown that people who have recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus. Hence, it is very clear that the immunity to COVID-19 is linked to the presence of antibodies against COVID-19. Do antibodies provide immunity to COVID-19? As per the experts, antibodies can provide some level of temporary immunity to COVID-19. However, no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies confers immunity to reinfection by this virus. The main catch here is that researchers aren’t sure about how long these antibodies stay in the body, so you can’t really be sure about how long this immunity lasts! The extent and duration of this antibody immunity to COVID-19 remain unknown as yet. The best thing is to continue taking precautions even if you have already had COVID-19 once. Can you get tested for immunity to COVID-19? Actually, no! As yet, no test can confirm that you are immune to COVID-19. However, a COVID-19 antibody test can detect the COVID-19 antibodies if you had been infected previously and recovered from the disease. This test measures the presence of antibodies in your blood and can be quite useful to understand if your body has encountered the virus in the recent past. Many of the people with COVID-19 have been asymptomatic and do not show any symptoms. A COVID-19 antibody test can tell if you had contracted the virus and your body made antibodies to fight it. Does a positive COVID-19 antibody test mean you are immune to COVID-19? A positive antibody test or the presence of antibodies only means that you’ve been exposed in the past. Having a positive antibody test does not mean that you’re immune to the virus. Researchers have explained that, for some infections, antibodies may provide protection against reinfection. For others, reinfection cannot be prevented, but symptoms may be milder. In yet other cases, antibodies can provide no protection at all. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a new virus, and the scientists are still learning about it. There isn’t much clarity on how the antibodies to COVID-19 behave. Also, a negative COVID-19 antibody test doesn’t mean that you had never contracted the virus. There might be a possibility that your antibodies levels have been exhausted, and hence the past infection could not be detected by the test. Could you get COVID-19 twice? It seems possible, however, how often is not known. There have been multiple cases reported in different parts of the world that people can be infected a second time. Though antibodies may prevent progression to severe illness or re-infection by the same virus, experts don't know how much protection, or how long it would last. It is also unclear if the reinfected people will be able to spread the infection to others. What should you do to prevent COVID-19 infection/ reinfection? The most effective ways to prevent catching coronavirus infection is to follow social distancing, wash hands often and use hand sanitizers, and wear a mask when in public. Even if you had contracted the virus in the past, do not take it as a COVID-19 immunity passport! That’s simply not advisable. Continue taking hygienic precautions against the virus to help protect yourself and your loved ones. Want to check if your body had encountered the virus in the past? Get tested for COVID-19 antibodies now within the comfort of your home.
Different Types of COVID-19 Tests and Their Significance
COVID-19 or Coronavirus disease is an infectious disease that causes severe respiratory illness. This new strain of coronavirus affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and might not need hospitalization. Some of the most common symptoms are: Dry cough Fever Fatigue Headache Body ache Sore throat Loss of smell and taste Nausea Vomiting COVID-19 has caused serious illness in older people and those with underlying chronic health problems like diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, obesity, cancer, etc Never let your health take a backseat. Get yourself regularly tested. COVID-19 Tests: Need of The Hour Testing for COVID-19 can identify you as a positive or negative case of coronavirus disease. It is very important as you can only get the right treatment or self-isolate if you know that you have contracted the coronavirus. Different Types of COVID-19 Tests Available India has stood relatively strong in her fight against COVID-19 with a strategy “Test, Track and Treat”. Different methods of testing have been launched to trace COVID-19 infection rapidly and efficiently. Watch this video to know more about Different types of COVID-19 test in this video: https://youtu.be/SBQklbZ9Rgo Some of the most commonly used tests used are: 1) Molecular (RT-PCR) Tests About the test- The Molecular test, commonly known as the RT-PCR test, is a method of testing that is used to directly detect the presence of the virus in the sample. The test detects the virus’s RNA, which is the genetic material of the virus. The first step in this test is to convert this RNA to DNA using an enzyme known as the reverse transcriptase. The PCR testing then detects this DNA. Hence the name RT-PCR. These are also known as the diagnostic test and nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). How the sample is taken- A nasal or throat swab sample is taken. Time taken to get results- Results are given the same day or within 2-3 days. Are they accurate- These tests are the most accurate. They have a high sensitivity and specificity. What it shows- These tests help diagnose the active coronavirus infection. If the virus is present in the sample, the test is positive but a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean that you can not be infected, you might have taken the test in the early days. What it cannot show- It fails to show if you ever had COVID-19 in the past. Cost of RT-PCR test- Cost of the antibody test kit is somewhere between Rs 2000- Rs 3000. In case you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19, you can approach your doctor who can further advise you for a test. Not every laboratory in the country can conduct a COVID-19 test as the virus is highly contagious. Only NABL(National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited laboratories approved by ICMR are equipped to handle the COVID-19 samples. Book your COVID-19 lab test confidently with us. What to Do After an RT-PCR test? If you test positive for the COVID-19 RT-PCR test: The healthcare provider will guide you to follow protective steps if you feel sick. If you test negative for COVID-19 RT-PCR test: It means you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or your sample might have been collected too early to detect an infection. If you develop symptoms after 3-4 days, you might need to take another lRT-PCR test to determine if you are infected. 2) COVID-19 Antigen Tests About the test- A COVID-19 antigen refers to any foreign matter or viral proteins in the body that triggers an immune response. This test helps identify the antigens related to the COVID-19 virus. Antigen test, also known as rapid antigen test, is a rapid diagnostic test that gives results faster than molecular tests. But there is a drawback, antigen tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection. How the sample is taken- Usually,anasal or throat swab sample is taken. Time taken to get results- Since it is a rapid test, results are delivered in 1 hour or less. Is another test needed- Rapid tests are usually highly accurate if you test positive however a negative result might need to be confirmed using a molecular test. What it shows- These tests help diagnose active coronavirus in the sample. What it cannot show- The Antigen test might miss an active coronavirus infection in comparison to RT-PCR tests. Cost of COVID-19 Antigen test- Cost of the COVID-19 antigen test kit is somewhere between Rs 400- Rs 500 3) COVID-19 Antibody Tests About the test- COVID-19 Antibody tests, also known as, Serology test, serological test, or Serology blood test, are screening tests for COVID-19 antibodies in your blood. It tells if you were previously infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The antibody test does not look for the active virus but checks whether your immune system has responded to the infection. How the sample is taken- It is tested by drawing your blood sample. Time taken to get results- Results are delivered either the same day or in 1-3 days. Is another test needed- Sometimes a second COVID-19 antibody test might be needed for more accurate results. What it shows- This test helps to find out if you were infected with the virus causing COVID-19 in the past and now have antibodies against it. What it cannot show- A COVID-19 antibody test may not show if you have an active virus in your body causing COVID-19 infection. Cost of Antibody test- The cost of COVID-19 antibody test kit is somewhere between Rs 500-Rs 600. When to seek medical help for COVID-19? In case you have minor symptoms like mild cough and fever, consult a doctor online and provide details thoroughly and follow home quarantine. There is no obvious need to visit a doctor in person. Self-isolate and monitor your symptoms for the next 14 days. Do not ignore if your fever increases or if you get any serious symptoms such as breathlessness, mental confusion, or blue lips. These signs may warrant to seek medical help immediately. Bottom line The best way to get a COVID-19 test is to contact your nearest healthcare provider who can guide you best on testing. Meanwhile, follow social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and avoid touching your face.