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The ongoing pandemic has greatly accelerated the rise of digital technology in healthcare.

As the pandemic continues to sweep across the world, causing unprecedented disruption to the economy and posing a constant threat of overwhelming healthcare services, the need for digital transformation has never been greater. Already, our everyday lives have been changed beyond measure by stay-at-home orders and closed schools and businesses. All the while, even highly effective healthcare services in developed countries are buckling under the strain.

But with vaccination now underway in many countries, there is finally hope on the horizon. Technology is critical to scaling the monumental task of vaccinating billions of people, as well as the testing that will be needed for years to come to isolate and mitigate localized outbreaks. Emerging solutions like artificial intelligence are helping to scale testing and vaccination and automate critical manufacturing processes, to name a few examples.

What are COVID-19 tests, and how do they work?

While a vaccine is the most powerful weapon against the coronavirus, testing remains a vital part of the overall strategy. Regular testing will continue to help, even once the pandemic has been brought under control. Not only does it allow epidemiologists to track outbreaks and get them under control before they spread across the wider community – they can also help test the efficacy of vaccines. Furthermore, testing helps those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical or other reasons.

COVID-19 tests broadly fall into two main categories. There are tests designed to diagnose a current infection, and others to determine whether a patient previously had SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Diagnostic tests for current infections include molecular testing and antigen testing, while antibody tests detect past infections.

Molecular testing

Molecular testing involves taking a sample of saliva or other bodily fluid using a nasal or throat swab. The sample is then analyzed on a molecular level to detect genetic material belonging to the virus. By far the most common method is the RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test.

The FDA has also authorized a direct-to-consumer molecular testing system, allowing patients to collect samples at home before shipping them off to the laboratory for analysis. The testing kits do not require any prescription.

RT-PCR testing has become the gold standard, since it is the most accurate. According to research curated by the CDC, RT-PCR tests yielded a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 98.9% in symptomatic patients. In asymptomatic patients, these figures stand at 41.2% and 98.4% respectively. Moreover, these figures give the testing a confidence level of 95%, making them far more reliable than other methods.

Antigen testing

Antigen testing is also done using a nasal or throat swab. It works by identifying fragments of the viral protein, known as antigens. Antigen tests are readily available from pharmacies and other medical facilities without a prescription, so they can be used at home. They also deliver much faster results, since samples do not need to be analyzed in a laboratory. In this respect, they work rather like a rapid strep test or pregnancy test, delivering results in minutes.

The main drawback of antigen testing is that it is not as accurate as RT-PCR testing. Because of this, the FDA does not recommend relying on it entirely. Negative antigen test results should ideally be verified with a RT-PCR test, since false negative results occur much more frequently than they do with molecular tests.

Antibody testing

Antibody testing determines whether patients have previously been infected with the virus by detecting antibodies in the blood. Because this method requires a blood sample, it can only be done at a medical facility. Results are typically available within a few days. Accuracy rates vary heavily depending on when the test is taken, due to the fact it takes a week or two for the body produce antibodies following an infection. Antibody levels can decay after a few months, making it uncertain how long immunity lasts.

How are digital platforms enabling mass-testing?

Without digital technology, it would be all but impossible to scale with the massive demand of testing and vaccinating billions of people around the world.

Thanks to digitized healthcare, it is now possible to complete digital intake forms and schedule online consultations. For example, popular video conferencing platform Zoom has launched a plan that caters specifically for the needs of the healthcare sector. Now fully HIPAA-compliant to protect patient privacy, general practitioners and other healthcare professionals can use Zoom, among other platforms, for holding online consultations. Doing so allows them to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to both themselves and their patients.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has greatly accelerated the demand for telemedicine. When it comes to COVID-19 testing, patients can now attend online appointments and use their home testing kits to collect specimens with real-time guidance and supervision. They can then send the specimen package using a specialized return shipping container provided by the lab and receive results by email or text message. It typically takes up to 24 hours to receive a result, which is far quicker than it is without the help of digital technology.

Similar methods will prove instrumental in rolling out mass vaccination campaigns as well. In fact, many countries are using the same systems they have been relying on for months in their testing and contact-tracing strategies for vaccinations. That said, the need for regular testing, especially in high-risk environments, such as healthcare facilities themselves, will stay for the foreseeable future.

How is SDI Labs using technology to help fight COVID-19?

SDI Labs depends heavily on digital technology to meet patient needs during the pandemic. Our web-based form allows patients to order RT-PCR tests online, and we can supervise and guide patients through the home-testing process via Zoom. We can then communicate results to patients via email, while maintaining patient privacy according to HIPAA regulations.

We have also implemented an AI-based system to better identify false positives and negatives from point-of-care antigen testing kits. This is especially important, given that antigen testing has a relatively low accuracy rate in the region of 60 to 80%. Our proprietary system analyzes patient intake data to determine the likelihood of patients being negative or positive, before matching those insights alongside actual test results.

Moreover, our labs management system allows us to scale capacity according to patient demand, while our integrated customer relationship management platform allows us to deliver faster and more efficient patient support.

Final words

While it will likely be some years before the pandemic can truly be declared over everywhere in the world, the digitization of healthcare will only become more important. The pandemic has simply highlighted the preexisting need to streamline healthcare and provide better outcomes, and these priorities are always going to be the primary goals of the sector.

SDI Labs relies on digital innovation to adapt and scale to the rapidly evolving needs of today’s healthcare sector. Our proven four-step COVID-19 testing model is helping us achieve optimal outcomes, with test results delivered by post or email within 24 hours. Order your test today.

Coronavirus hit the world in January 2020, and one thing is clear. It has shifted the dynamics of the world completely. Entire organizations have been disrupted and some have even been forced to declare themselves as bankrupt. Massive layoffs have taken place. Employees have had to face pay-cuts. In fact, they also experienced a change in corporate culture. With lockdown orders in place and orders that prevented people from gathering in one place, organizations had no choice but to shift people at home and ask them to work from there.

Employees have had to adapt to a new work culture. Previously, they were made to feel part of the organization. They could also socialize with other employees. Now, while being at home, employees also had to deal with feelings of isolation. Human Resources also had to face changes and are continuing to do so. It seems as if the entire corporate world has been hit hard by the Pandemic and is now trying to find its place. In this article, we will look into how the corporate world has changed with the advent of the virus and what HR is doing.

The role of the HR

HR professionals are now concerned with employees’ well-being and they also have the burden of processing paperwork for the employees who are being laid-off. Moreover, they also have to fire employees because of the Pandemic and perhaps bring in fresh talent to replace them. For employees still on the job, HR managers are trying to make the workers more productive, motivated and connected. However, the job has come with challenges. Therefore, there are some steps that HR must take to stay ahead of the game.

Systemic Thinking: To survive, businesses have to become more adaptable. They have to be flexible and move with speed and agility. This is one of the things HR can heavily influence. It is in one of the best positions to see the overall process and offer a strong perspective on how things need to be done. It can ensure proper communication, coordination, and collaboration across units and business groups. HR can also reprioritize the business’s role to adapt to the changing customer demands and markets set forth by COVID-19. Since it has access to all the employees of various departments, it can ensure the process is carried out flawlessly.

Company culture: Since the company culture has been altered directly, HR has to ensure that employees still feel like they are part of the organization. To do this, HR is conducting a culture assessment to close the gap between the desired and current culture. Since HR is the best department to motivate people to adapt to change, it helps the organization adapt to the change.

Providing strong leaders: A strong leader is needed, particularly in trying times to help the organization navigate the Pandemic. HR plays a fundamental role in developing leaders and ensures that they will be successful by holding them to a higher standard. It is HR’s job to provide the leaders with the skills they need to control and manage the company from a distance by giving them proper training. It should also provide employees with clarity. 

Remote work

One of the biggest changes that the Pandemic brought with it is remote work. And that change is probably here to stay. However, the concept of remote working was not entirely new. Even before the Coronavirus hit, virtual work was being done. In the US, the number of people who were telecommuting in US increased 159 percent between 2005 and 2017, according to the data from Flexjobs. The data also indicated that 4.7 million in the US were telecommuting. This is a figure that has increased from 3.9 million in 2015.

Just a couple of weeks into the virus, the WHO declared the Coronavirus as a pandemic on March 11. Since then, almost 16 million US workers have transitioned to remote work. The number grew even more as states started to bring in lockdown orders.

Major companies such as Twitter and Square announced that their workers could remotely indefinitely, while Facebook and Google announced that the workers could work from home for the rest of the year. It seems that in the corporate world, the new policy is work from home…at least for those jobs that don’t require in-person presence.

The impact of work from home on workers

While it will be a new normal in the long run, it might not be that way in the short run. A study conducted by slack.com showed that first-time remote workers could feel lonely, isolated, and overwhelmed. They might also feel distracted and disconnected from the company as they have not had a chance to interact with anyone from the company.

For old time workers, it is mixed. Remote work has been shown to increase worker productivity, leading to isolation and stress as the line between work and home starts to blur. Managers also believe that the team would not work well as creativity is suppressed. For workers who have children, schools’ closure places an extra burden on them as they are expected to supervise their children while working from home.

However, there are pros to working from home as well. For starters, when the workers are working from home, they have the flexibility to work on their hours. Of course, while the employees are expected to be on time for virtual meetings, the fact is they can work on the hours they feel comfortable. Some people are just not morning people. As a result, they were never very comfortable ingoing to work so early. Now, with flexible timings, they can do so easily.

Some workers also enjoy working from home because they have the freedom to do as they please. At work, sometimes, managers supervise to the point of micromanaging their employees. It can leave employees feeling helpless and frustrated. At home, they are given the autonomy to do their work, which increases the level of motivation that employees have.

A plus for the company is also a decrease in the number of sick leaves. When employees work from home, they are less likely to take an off as it does not entail coming to the office and sitting with other people. They can work from the comfort of their beds without getting anyone else sick in the process. It is a significant win for both parties.

The future of work from home

Some experts claim that work from home is here to stay. This means in the future; we will see more people taking remote work positions. Activities that require the use of lab equipment or operating heavy machinery cannot, of course, be done remotely. Similarly, a job entailing driving a vehicle cannot be done remotely. Such activities require people to come in and work from the site. Otherwise, there can be no work done at all.

On the other hand, data processing or information-gathering can be done remotely. Employees need not come in. All they have to do is sit in front of their laptop, and the work can be done. However, once again, we have to be careful about the nature of the work. While it is true data can be analyzed remotely, data has to be collected sometimes in person, especially if one is carrying out a survey. Once again, there can be no generalizations.

In advanced economies particularly, there is great potential to do the work remotely. Jobs in business, insurance, and financial services account for a significant share of jobs. They also have a lower share in agricultural occupations, which allows for the transition to remote work.

Therefore, as the world moves forward, remote work can be expected. However, experts claim that it will be in hybrid form with some employees working from home, while others will come to the site, depending on the skills required. McKinsey carried out a survey of 800 corporate executives globally, and 38% of the respondents stated that they expected their employees to continue work from home after the Pandemic.

There are implications for working from home as well. It can increase the inequalities by providing flexibility and lower costs to the workers who can work remotely while increasing the jobs’ precariousness that cannot be done remotely. For women, it might lead to more domestic violence and place a greater burden on them as women are expected to play the role of the homemaker in addition to being an employee.

In the field of technology

Reuters.com conducted a study that indicated that the percentage of remote workers around the world would double in 2021 as productivity showed an increase, especially as decision-makers expected permanent remote workers to double to 34.4% in 2021. Previously, in the IT companies, the figure was only 16.4%.

How companies implemented work from home

For instance, Activision Blizzar, a video game company in California, moved 99 percent of the workforce at home. They already had a work from home policy. However, it was not evolved enough to support work from home on such a huge scale. According to the chief people officer, Claudine Naughton, the remote work policy did not take into account supporting employees who were dealing with kids or other dependents at home.

This meant they had to make even more adjustments to the work from home policy. HR was required to give its employees more flexibility, especially when it came to working hours. The company did so after much discussion. However, this was something they had never done before.

As the pandemic spread, HR also thought of new policies to cope with health-related issues. The company covered all tests, and the employees were given access to doctors if they became ill and needed medical help. It was not only for the employees but also for their family members’ health costs. The goal was for the employees to feel more comfortable while transitioning to work from home and to ensure that the productivity level was maintained.

The company also provided manager resources for the leaders, which they could use to help the teams, keep them more focused on the task at hand and encourage them to attend the daily meetings at a specific time. This company also placed contingency plans for people with specific skills who might be absent.

It was relatively easier for large tech companies to transition to remote working as they had policies that were already in place. They did not face much of a problem.

Last words

It seems that the Coronavirus has impacted the world. Things might never go back to the way they were. Therefore, it’s best that the employees feel comfortable working from their homes as this might just be the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be one of the deadliest pandemics of all time. The ability of this harmful virus to spread instantaneously and to lie undetected has thrown the world into turmoil.

Coronavirus originally broke out in a Chinese poultry market in December of 2019. Ever since then, economies have faced a downfall all over the world. Up to the publication of this article, about 89.7 million people have been affected worldwide, with about 49.8 million people recovering within a few weeks and 1.93 million losing their lives.

This article will cover all the updated and latest details of the COVID-19 vaccine, its efficiency, and testing requirements. We will also go through the mechanism of action of T-cells.

Preparation Of the COVID-19 Vaccine

The great majority of individuals are still prone to viral infection. The only thing preventing more unnecessary deaths are the present limits and restrictions. It would be fair to say that social distancing has helped a lot.

Right now, there is a dire need for the administration of the coronavirus vaccine. Fortunately, the vaccine will be available to the masses very soon. Vaccinations are the best escape plans for outbreaks, as they prepare our bodies to fight with the parasite.

Prior to the actual commercial usage among the public, vaccines normally need years of analysis and experimentations. However, researchers began working on the COVID-19 vaccine immediately and completed the trials in a minimum amount of time.

Testing procedure for COVID-19 vaccinations

The vaccinations are only authorized after complete analysis and research. Currently, the coronavirus vaccinations being introduced have undergone the following series of steps.

1. Preclinical Tests

Experts evaluate samples for a potent vaccine and then test them on animals like mice or monkeys to see whether an antibody reaction is produced.

2. Security Tests

Scientists inject a selected number of healthy individuals with a shot to monitor its efficacy and safe dosage. They also ensure that it activates the immune function.

3. Detailed Testing

To evaluate the success rate of vaccines in different people, researchers categorize hundreds of individuals into different age groups. These experiments also examine the security of the vaccination.

4. Efficiency Testing

Researchers calculate and compare the results of vaccination in the experimental and control groups. These experiments decide whether the vaccination will safeguard against a healthy viral strain. Furthermore, other tests are also conducted to look for any possible side effects.

5. Early Authorization

Consistent with earlier data that they too are reliable and efficient, Britain and other nations have started providing urgent approval for vaccines. On the other hand, China and Russia have accepted vaccinations without checking the outcome of Phase 3 tests, which scientists believe are at significant risk.

6. Complete Authorization

Regulatory bodies evaluate the full findings of the tests and allow the manufacturing of the vaccine. Besides, they determine whether they should grant it clearance or not.

7. Combined Phases

Combining phases are another method to improve vaccine production. For example, some vaccines are currently in phase 1/2 trials, which will add up this monitor as both phase 1 and phase 2.

8. Suspension

Researchers will stop the trials if inspectors detect worrying signs in participants. The trials can continue or get suspended after an examination.

Recent Coronavirus Vaccines

Fortunately, researchers have successfully developed three coronavirus vaccinations. These vaccines have been authorized and licensed. Even though WHO hasn’t authorized any of them yet, recent assessments have yielded positive results.

Testing of several candidates has brought fruitful results. The recent anticipations regarding corona vaccinations are constantly being updated. Here are the three vaccinations that have been rolled out.

Moderna Vaccination

This vaccine is based on the utilization of small parts of the virus’s DNA code. Hence, it is also known as RNA vaccination. The vaccine works by familiarizing the body with the coronavirus. After the creation of a weak strain in the body, the body prepares itself to fight the original danger that is to intrude.

This vaccination is special in the sense that

  • It can save and defend about 94.5 percent of people from the virus, as claimed by the firm.
  • The vaccine is provided in two shots with intervals of four weeks.
  • It is already being implemented by the UK. About 17 million doses have been ordered and will be available in the spring.
  • Thirty thousand individuals have participated in the trials.
  • It is similar to the Pfizer vaccine in its working mechanism but can be stored at -20 degrees celsius for half a year.

Pfizer-BioNtech Vaccination

This vaccine’s credibility was initially proclaimed in November. The only drawback, however, is its transportation and storage. It is stable at a temperature of -70 degrees celsius and must be transported in an optimized case.

It has a success rate of 95% and is given in 2 shots, with time intervals of 3 weeks. Moreover, the UK has pre-ordered 40 million shots.

The vaccine-implementation process of Pfizer-BioNtech to tackle COVID-19 includes:

  1. Transportation of the vaccine shots to the designated country in optimized dry ice cases with an amount of five thousand per vehicle
  2. Storage of vaccination shots in the ‘freezer farm’ that has the capability of storing shots for up to half a year at around -70 degrees celsius
  3. Transportation of Pfizer-BioNtech corona vaccine to the clinics in 10 days
  4. Storage of the shots in a fridge for up to 5 days if necessary

AstraZeneca Vaccination

This vaccine was finally announced on 5 January by Oxford. The authorization was given after the results were visible. Besides, these shots are popular for helping older people as they enhance their immune systems.

Moreover, the vaccination is provided in 2 shots. It is stable at comparatively greater temperatures, making it efficient for transport. Lastly, the shots are made from induced feeble impressions of the common cold virus from chimpanzees.

The manufacturing process of this vaccination includes

  1. The addition of spike proteins from the coronavirus and a benign virus
  2. Injection of the vaccine into the patient
  3. The creation of antibodies in the person’s body in reaction to the spike protein
  4. Activation of T-cells for the annihilation of spike proteins

Immune System Cells Fighting Against The Virus

Many of the citizens have regular exposure to viruses. Our body’s way of fighting off viruses is distinct from how we battle bacteria. Viruses can only live within our tissues and spread. This helps them to “cover” themselves from our immune response.

The cell releases cytokines as the virus attacks the tissues and signals other cells to clear the contamination. In particular, this warning stops other cells from getting contaminated. Unfortunately, this defensive technique can be outsmarted by certain viruses and result in the propagation of the disease.

T-cells and NK cells are notified of a viral attack and migrate to the location where the individual cells harboring the virus are destroyed.

As several of our cells can be destroyed in the cycle, this is a very damaging method for destroying the virus. Nonetheless, eradicating the virus is a successful operation.

The T-lymphocytes destroy the virus at the very same time, and they also advise the B-lymphocytes to develop antibodies.

When our cells encounter the same virus for the second time, the antibodies effectively deter the illness. Memory T-cells are also developed and help tackle the second infection easily. It also contributes to a relatively gentle infection path.

Effects of Vaccinations On COVID-19 Pandemic

Some variables rely on the effects of the COVID-19 vaccinations on the disease outbreak. These include considerations such as vaccine efficacy; how easily shots are licensed, produced, and shipped; or how many people are vaccinated.

Many experts expect that coronavirus vaccines, like many other vaccinations, would not be 100 percent successful. It is imperative to assure that the vaccinations authorized are as safe as possible so that they can assert a bigger impact on the disease outbreak.

This is too soon to predict whether vaccines against COVID-19 can have lengthy security. To clear this up, extensive study is needed.

The Bottom Line

The current evidence shows that almost all individuals healing from COVID-19 establish an immune reaction that offers latent infection safety for at least a certain amount of time. However, we are still studying how good and how prolonged this security is.

Two dosage regimens are used in most COVID-19 vaccines that are being evaluated now. Individuals behave differently to immunization. History shows that in senior citizens, any vaccination may be less effective because, just like with the annual flu jab, an aging immunity response does not react adequately. But the evidence so far shows that this might not be a concern for any of the COVID-19  vaccines. Lastly, adjuvants can enhance the immunity systems too. When taken alongside vaccines, they can remarkably help you manage the symptoms. Vaccinations usually come out late but the sheer determination of researchers all over the world along with the positive behavior of the general public has helped control the COVID-19 situation.

Understanding The Differences Between Infection and Infectious In COVID-19 – Implications For Prevention And The Emergence Of A New Variant

With the varying terminology related to COVID-19, it’s very easy for patients, their families and yes, sometimes even practitioners to get confused about the precise meaning of some terms. One area that can be especially confusing is the difference between having an “infection” and actually being “infectious.”

First of all, even if a person has been exposed to COVID-19, they may not have been infected, meaning their body has been invaded by the virus and is apt to begin replicating and spreading throughout their body. Even if they have been infected, they may not begin showing symptoms, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, for up to 14 days after exposure.

To further complicate matters, people who may have been exposed and subsequently become infected, may be infectious (capable of spreading the virus to others) even if they are not currently showing any symptoms. Plus, some of those people who are infected and have no symptoms initially, may actually never go on to develop symptoms, but still be infectious!

Close Exposure and Quarantine

The CDC defines exposure as close contact with someone who has COVID-19, which means being within 6 feet of the person who is ill for 15 minutes or more. Close contact is also defined as having had direct physical contact with that person, such as touching them, giving them a hug or sharing eating or drinking utensils. A person is also deemed to have had close contact if the person who was infected sneezed or coughed on them, or otherwise got respiratory droplets on them. Also included as exposed are those people who actually provided care in the home for someone who was ill with COVID-19.

This is why people who have been exposed, or believe they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, should, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, self-quarantine for 14 days to be sure they are not going to develop the illness. Quarantine means someone who may have been exposed to the virus stays away from others. Isolation, on the other hand, means keeping someone who actually has the virus away from others to avoid spreading the illness.

Although the CDC recognizes 14 days as the optimal quarantine period, they also realize that a shorter quarantine, following strict guidelines, may be recommended in some cases to both reduce the burden on the public health system and to make it easier for people to quarantine. Local public health authorities will make these decisions based on conditions in their geographic areas. Public health officials may consider ending the quarantine after ten days if there have been no symptoms or stopping the quarantine after seven days if there has been a negative test on day five or later after exposure.

Emergence of A New Viral Variants and Implications for Vaccines

In addition to confusion around terminology, there now appears to be a new coronavirus strain which is understandably causing quite a bit of concern. The emergence of the new strain, which is known as the B.1.1.7 variant, is not unexpected, as all viruses mutate over time. The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first seen in the Ul.K., is among several new variants which have been recognized globally.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a clinical alert to laboratories as well as clinicians warning of the emergence of the B.1.1. 7 variant. The alert underscores the importance of recognizing that false negative COVID test results may result if the part of the virus’s genome assessed by a molecular test has undergone a mutation. These false negative results can potentially occur with any emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant, not just the B.1.1.7 strain.

The FDA also cautions that the new B.1.1.7 variant has been associated with an increased risk of transmission, underscoring the urgency of early detection of the variant to reduce the chances of transmission. Although cases involving the new variant have been isolated in the U.S. the CDC states, that although the new variant does not make people sicker, because it is more easily transmitted, cases are likely to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and months.

Of course, the emergence of new variants, such as the B.1.1.7 strain raises concerns over the efficacy of the newly developed vaccines. A study published by the Imperial College of London (but not yet peer reviewed) suggests an alarming 50 percent increase in transmissibility over the more common form of the virus.

A team led by Jesse Bloom, a viral evolutionary biologist with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington have found evidence that these mutated viruses can dodge recognition by antibodies in those people who have had COVID-19. The researchers are hoping that because vaccines induce such substantial levels of neutralizing antibodies, that the performance of the vaccines will not be substantially affected. Also, the scientists believe that the human T-cell response from the vaccines may not be affected by the variants.

Double Whammy Winter

Summer is about to end and Americans need to be alarmed of the fact that the upcoming fall and winter months will be a lot more challenging to survive than ever. On the outbreak of the flu season, the U.S. will have to worry about not one, but two contagious viruses.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently stated, “The actual risk is that we will have two circulating respiratory pathogens at the same time”. We know the flu is a deadly virus which can itself cause disease and death. It is more lethal, especially for elderly people and those who have underlying health conditions. The devastation caused by the rash of coronavirus has made it more frightening for the citizens of the U.S.

As states have reopened, over 100 countries in the U.S. are titled as “Coronavirus Hotspots”. This virus is unfamiliar and its vaccine is still under-testing. Dr. Haase, SDI’s Medical Director said, “An enormous challenge that we have with COVID-19 is that it has a long incubation period, from the time when an individual is exposed to the virus to when they eventually develop symptoms.”

A flu vaccine might be one way to help prevent influenza. But even though flu vaccines are safe and effective, they aren’t very effective against coronavirus. CDC remarked that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading during the fall and winter season. For these conditions, getting a flu vaccine will be a lot more important. The most dreadful possibility is having flu (and other respiratory illnesses) and COVID-19 at the same time.

According to the data from China, we believe every coronavirus case infects about 2 to 2.5 additional people. That’s higher than the flu. The average patient spreads the flu virus to about 1.3 people. This is the reason this year the American public should reconsider their thoughts and follow all the preventive measures given by the CDC.

The tools America has been using for months are: maintaining social distancing by standing at least six feet apart, wearing a face mask, washing hands—are still the best protection against pruning the effects of coronavirus. The vaccine to fight this virus will be ready by late 2020 or early 2021.

I believe that we need to learn to coexist with the virus as we search for a vaccine. Testing will enable us to understand the persons affected and then make calculated decisions for patients and the community.

Our team of industry-leading scientists and medical professionals, SDI, has developed an accurate testing model to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The 4 -step testing COVID-19 model includes: Test, Track, Treat, and Isolate.

Our viral RT-PCR RNA test was allowed under the FDA (EUA) which is 99.9% accurate. We use it as the first diagnostic method to determine if an active COVID-19 infection is present in the patient.

It’s not the virus versus a certain class. It’s the virus versus mankind.

“Covid-19 is a global pandemic and we are all in this together. Our little cooperation and awareness can contribute towards a greater cause of controlling this pandemic.”

This Pandemic can be controlled only if all of us become equally careful and responsible and understand the importance of three basic things.

  1. Testing
  2. Social distancing
  3. Mask use.

Testing

Amidst this pandemic, testing has proved to be very useful in controlling the spread of the virus.

Testing has helped the population to take necessary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus causing COVID-19. Even when the vaccine becomes available, testing will help in prioritizing population who are more in need of immunization.

Types of tests:

There are two basic types of tests for Covid-19.

  1. Viral or Diagnostic tests:

A viral or diagnostic test helps us to know if we are currently infected with the coronavirus. It’s done when we face any symptoms and the doctor refers us based on our symptoms and other factors.

  1. Antibody Test:

An antibody test helps us know if we were previously infected or exposed to the coronavirus and if our body has created antibodies in an attempt to defend itself.

It helps to collect data about how the immune system fight off COVID-19.

When should you get yourself tested?

Many people are reluctant to get themselves tested or are unsure about when they should get themselves tested.

As said by WHO, the common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, muscle pain. These symptoms can be easily assumed as common cold or influenza by many.

So testing helps in identifying people who actually have Covid-19.

Sometimes the symptoms can be so mild depending upon the general health and immunity of individuals that they might not even think they could have been infected by coronavirus but unknowingly they contribute towards spreading it to those who might get severely affected by it. That’s why testing plays a very crucial role in controlling the spread and taking necessary precautions.

Vaccine:

As the news of trials of vaccine SPUTNIK V that has been developed by Russia is spreading, it does bring the hope of getting the situation in control, but people shouldn’t become careless as the time by which it’d reach every corner of the world is yet not sure.

Russia calls it’s vaccine SPUTNIK V and as per the news its mass distribution will begin in October for the Russian population. Vladimir Putin’s own daughter has reportedly received the vaccine developing the virus’s antibodies but Russia hasn’t yet published any of its scientific data.

There’s growing skepticism about it by various researchers of US but even if the vaccine is made and is safe, it alone can’t control the situation and bring everything back to normal if we don’t co-operate and take the precautions and understand the importance of testing as we can’t rely on vaccine completely.

Why testing is important even after the vaccine is made?

“Prevention is better than cure”. Testing plays a crucial role in preventing further spread of the virus as it enables us to take necessary actions. The Faster you get yourself tested and if it comes positive the faster you isolate yourself the number of people who might be infected will decrease.

Moreover, as many countries are removing restrictions, the probability of the spread of the virus surely increases if individuals refuse to get themselves tested and take the precautionary measures, and if the cases of infected people rise, once again the restrictions would be made.

Laboratory confirmation diagnostic testing could indicate which population is still at risk of new coronavirus and which have already been recovered.

Testing has helped in decreasing the number of new cases as seen in Singapore and South Korea because it enabled them to take proper care of people suffering from it and manage it’s spread.

Increasing cases of Covid-19.

Covid-19 cases have increased significantly per day in many parts of the world because of a lack of mass testing and careless attitude of people and lack of social distancing. The US sets one-day record with more than 60500 cases and total cases in India being reported as more than 2.4 million is enough to tell the contagious nature of this virus and how fast and easy it could spread. But countries like South Korea, Fiji, New Zealand that have done mass testing and applied strict rules have shown significant improvement and decrease in number of new covid cases which is enough to show the importance of testing.

Conclusion:

Mass testing and social distancing is the need of the hour. The vaccine alone can’t defeat the pandemic. It’s important to get yourselves tested frequently.

It has been over six months since the world started grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, had never been seen before. That meant even our top researchers, scientists, and medical experts knew nothing about the virus. 

Today, we have a better understanding of the virus and how it affects patients compared to what we knew a few months ago. However, we are continuing to learn new things as we search for treatment and a vaccine. 

As the world continues to battle the pandemic and countries confront both a health and economic crisis, it is clear that until a vaccine exists, testing is essential to reopening and coexisting with SARS-CoV-2.  

Currently, there are two main types of COVID-19 testing kits approved for clinical use, the viral RT-PCR RNA testing kit and the antibody testing kit. SDI Labs offers both. SDI’s viral RT-PCR RNA test is one of only 37 molecular-based tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The antibody serology test is also FDA EUA approved.

“What people don’t recognize about medical tests is that you need to know what your goal is when you order a particular test, because every single test tells you different types of information, and it has a particular context in which it is useful,” said Dr. David Haase, SDI’s Medical Director.

The viral RT-PCR RNA test detects a current SARS-CoV-2 infection. It tests for SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, also known as RNA. If the viral RNA is detected, then the virus is present. Dr. Haase feels this is the most important test. 

“Now, the other test that has gotten a lot of press is the antibody test. That is a measure of the immune response of a human to a particular virus or bacteria,” Dr. Haase said. “This test is fraught with more challenges because there are other coronaviruses outside of SARS-CoV-2. Sometimes these antibody tests can create a false positive test or maybe that individual doesn’t produce a lot of antibodies because they don’t have the intact immune system, then you would get a false negative response.” 

Antibody testing uses a blood sample to detect two types of antibodies: IgM, which develop early on in an infection, and IgG, which are more likely to appear after an individual has recovered. Antibody tests can be used to supplement RNA tests, but should not be used as the sole basis for the diagnosis or exclusion of COVID-19, according to the CDC and the WHO.

“There are rapid tests, and then there are also tests that get done in a high complexity lab such as SDI. The high complexity lab has a higher degree of sensitivity and specificity because there are many more controls that can be placed on the process. Rapid testing has more false positives and false negatives,” Dr. Haase said. 

Combining the use of viral RT-PCR RNA tests and antibody tests allows patients to identify both if they are currently infected with COVID-19, and if they may have previously had it. 

With this information, patients have a better understanding of their health history. Meanwhile, employers are able to understand who is currently infected, who has been infected and who hasn’t been. Based on that data, they’re able to make informed decisions about safe workplace re-entry. 

“We do the viral RT-PCR RNA test to identify the current infection — whether the patient is currently infected or not,” Oz said. “If the patient is negative, if they are an employee, we evaluate their immunity to say whether they have developed antibodies to get back to work, to the greatest possibility with a mask and social distancing guidelines. That’s why we combine highly sensitive antibody testing with the wider testing of the viral RT-PCR RNA test.”

What is SDI’s testing solution?

“SDI’s approach to COVID-19 is an end-to-end solution focused on patient centricity,” Oz said. It involves four key steps: test, track, treat, and isolate 

First, SDI Labs believes in testing 100% of the patient population to determine a baseline of who has an active SARS-CoV-2 infection and who does not. Then, SDI Labs uses a digital intake process to collect essential data that, in the event of a positive diagnosis, informs the provider and enables virus contact tracing.

“The tracking part is very important at the patient population level, especially with this virus and infectious diseases so that we can inform the doctors and public health agencies on how to control the spread,” Oz said. “We have built-in systems, data solutions, mobile systems, and cloud applications to help us do that because we are not just a lab. We are a technology company that combined with a lab.”

SDI Labs connects patients to telehealth providers and empowers physicians with accurate data to appropriately assess and triage the patient, and determine the best therapies and care.

“We are partnering with telehealth companies to give the right level of guidance and data so that the doctor can assess and triage the patient — who needs quarantine, who needs the next level of care — based on the data that we have on symptoms, underlying medical conditions, medication, and the test results,” Oz said.

Finally, SDI Labs encourages patients who are infected, think they might be, or came into contact with someone who was, to stay home and isolate in an effort to halt the spread within their community.

“As humans to each other, it’s up to the private citizens,” Oz said. “It’s up to the private enterprises to step up and do their job. We are at war with this virus, and it’s the virus versus mankind. It’s not the virus versus the country. It’s not the virus versus a certain class. It’s the virus versus mankind.”

How SDI combines testing, tracking, treating and isolating to empower patients and providers

At SDI Labs, data, science and innovation are at the core of our work. Since the virus first appeared, we’ve been learning about it and focusing on the data, including what it means for our patients and their communities. 

SDI Labs CEO Oz Mohiuddin and Medical Director Dr. David Haase have been at the forefront of our work. They’ve been following the latest research and studies about the virus, and how it behaves. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, SDI Labs centered its work around identifying complex infectious diseases. 

Leveraging their research, knowledge of infectious diseases and their individual expertise, Oz and Dr. Haase played integral roles in developing SDI’s comprehensive approach to COVID-19. 

“Our approach is an end-to-end solution focused on patient centricity,” Oz said. It involves four key steps: test, track, treat, and isolate.

First, SDI Labs believes in testing 100% of the patient population to determine a baseline of who has an active SARS-CoV-2 infection and who does not. Then, SDI Labs uses a digital intake process to collect essential data that, in the event of a positive diagnosis, informs the provider and enables virus contact tracing.

“The tracking part is very important at the patient population level, especially with this virus and infectious diseases so that we can inform the doctors and public health agencies on how to control the spread,” Oz said. “We have built-in systems, data solutions, mobile systems, and cloud applications to help us do that because we are just not a lab. We are a technology company combined with a lab.”

Then, SDI Labs connects patients to telehealth providers and empowers physicians with accurate data to appropriately assess and triage the patient, and determine the best therapies and care.

“We are partnering with telehealth companies to give the right level of guidance and data so that the doctor can assess and triage the patient — who needs quarantine, who needs the next level of care — based on the data that we have on symptoms, underlying medical conditions, medication, and the test results,” Oz said.

Finally, SDI Labs encourages patients who are infected, think they might be, or came into contact with someone who was, to stay home and isolate in an effort to halt the spread within their community.

“The system is extremely important not only for the data, but the efficiency,” Oz said. Leveraging a systems approach, providers are able to treat the whole patient and figure out what is really happening. If a patient tests negative, but still has symptoms, they can be tested for co-infections. Or, if a patient has medical conditions that put them at high-risk, their test can be prioritized. 

It is in using a thorough system of testing, tracking, treating, and isolating, that providers have all of the necessary information to make informed decisions with their patients. There are many different factors that contribute to a person’s health: their history, the medications they take, and any underlying health conditions. A comprehensive approach takes all of this information into account.

SDI leverages both the viral RT-PCR RNA and antibody tests

Currently, there are two main types of COVID-19 testing kits approved for clinical use, the viral RT-PCR RNA testing kit and the antibody testing kit. SDI offers both. SDI’s viral RT-PCR RNA test is one of only 37 molecular-based tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The antibody serology test is also FDA EUA approved.

The viral RT-PCR RNA test detects a current SARS-CoV-2 infection. It tests for SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, also known as RNA. If the viral RNA is detected, then the virus is present. Dr. Haase feels this is the most important test. 

RNA testing detects SARS-CoV-2 genetic material to identify if a patient is infected. According to documents published by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), RNA tests are the first choice in the diagnosis of COVID-19.

Antibody testing uses a blood sample to detect two types of antibodies: IgM, which develop early on in an infection, and IgG, which are more likely to appear after an individual has recovered. Antibody tests can be used to supplement RNA tests, but should not be used as the sole basis for the diagnosis or exclusion of COVID-19, according to the CDC and the WHO.

“This test is fraught with more challenges because there are other coronaviruses outside of SARS-CoV-2. Sometimes these antibody tests can create a false positive test or maybe that individual doesn’t produce a lot of antibodies because they don’t have an intact immune system, then you would get a false negative response,” Dr. Haase said. 

Combining the use of viral RT-PCR RNA tests and antibody tests allows patients to identify both if they are currently infected with COVID-19, and if they may have previously been infected.

With this information, patients have a better understanding of their health history. Meanwhile, employers are able to understand who is currently infected, who has been infected, and who hasn’t been. Based on that data, they’re able to make informed decisions about safe workplace re-entry. 

“We do the viral RT-PCR RNA test to identify the current infection — whether the patient is currently infected or not,” Oz said. “If the patient is negative, if they are an employee, we evaluate their immunity to say whether they have developed antibodies to get back to work, to the greatest possibility with the mask and social distancing guidelines. That’s why we combine highly sensitive antibody testing with the wider testing of the viral RT-PCR RNA test.”

What asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers mean for the COVID-19 pandemic

As communities begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, public officials, medical professionals and health experts ask that if community members feel sick that they stay home in order to prevent spreading the virus. 

However, as more is discovered about the SAR-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, it has become clear that not everyone who is infectious shows symptoms. 

“A big challenge that we have with COVID-19 is that it has a long incubation period, from the time when an individual is exposed to the virus to when they eventually develop symptoms,” said Dr. Haase, SDI’s Medical Director.

Even if a patient isn’t showing symptoms, they may still be infectious and could be unknowingly spreading the virus. Recent studies show that a substantial portion of individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, or experience no symptoms. This means the only way to truly know who is and isn’t infected is through community-wide, accurate testing. 

“Some of those people will stay asymptomatic,” Dr. Haase said. “They will never develop symptoms. They will just be a carrier of the virus, some of these people we recognize as ‘super spreaders.’ They can go out into a community and spread the virus far and wide because they don’t know that they’re sick, so they don’t have any reason to be cautious.” 

Presymptomatic describes the period of time in which an individual is infected with COVID-19 and is highly contagious, but hasn’t shown signs of symptoms yet. 

“We talk about asymptomatic and presymptomatic, but we can’t really know who is who until after that person has been infected long enough to understand whether or not they’re going to develop symptoms,” Dr. Haase said. “The terms are very useful for researchers, but they’re not very helpful when it comes to changing the curve because the individuals that are already infected and asymptomatic, whether or not they develop new symptoms, they’re a danger, and they need to be identified.”

The only way to identify asymptomatic patients is through viral RT-PCR RNA testing, he said. This is why it is important to test everyone, not just those who show symptoms.

In response to this, SDI’s comprehensive approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, — which includes testing, tracking, treating, and isolating — recommends testing everyone within a community. 

“You need to start somewhere,” said Oz Mohiuddin, SDI’s CEO. “You need to baseline that patient population to say whether they are infected or not … The most amount of spread happens at the asymptomatic and presymptomatic level. The data is clearly showing that this is the approach. We believe it is the most prudent approach moving forward.”

SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease — did not exist last year. At the beginning of 2020, as the world raced to slow the spread of the virus, scientists, researchers, and medical professionals set out to learn more about the novel coronavirus. 

“It’s a very novel virus,” said Oz Mohiuddin, SDI’s CEO. “I have to say, it’s acting very differently than what we have seen with other viruses. At this point in time, it’s about surviving, about caring for our communities, our families, and preventing the spread.”

While there are still a lot of unknowns, we now have a better understanding of the virus, its symptoms, and how it spreads. 

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, and a part of the coronavirus family, which are viruses that can cause a variety of illnesses. Coronaviruses cause one-third of common colds and sometimes respiratory infections. 

“Coronaviruses as a class are around us all the time,” said Dr. David Haase, SDI’s Medical Director. “It is a very specific type of coronavirus and it is the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When that virus causes disease, we call that disease COVID-19. It is very easily transmitted via droplets, via aerosols, via contact surfaces. It is sneaky. Once it has infected an individual, that individual can shed that virus to infect other individuals, before that person even knows that they are ill, or that person may never know they’re ill and still be able to spread the virus.”

A wide range of symptoms have been reported by people with COVID-19, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. However, a substantial portion of individuals infected with COVID-19 have shown no symptoms at the time of testing, or were asymptomatic. 

“It has a vast range of symptoms, and it is rather clear that the sicker you are before you’ve been infected with the virus, the more challenges you’re going to have with regard to symptoms and severity of illness after you have been infected,” Dr. Haase said. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms include the following: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

“Individuals that have particular risk are obese individuals with diabetes, individuals with preexisting blood vessel disease, coagulation disease, and immune disorders,” Dr. Haase said. “Therefore, it has disproportionately affected the oldest and the most frail groups in the United States.”

Severe symptoms can lead to hospitalization and the need for a ventilator. “The hope is that individuals can survive long enough with these supportive therapies, that they can come through, but once a person gets on [a ventilator], it has a very high mortality rate, nearly 80% of those individuals will die,” Dr. Haase said. 

“Treatment has been focused upon supportive therapies, and a host of studied new interventions,” Dr. Haase said. Some research has shown that treatment can affect patients differently. 

“An individual who has a suppressed immune system early on may benefit from medications that augment the immune system,” Dr. Haase said. “Individuals that have an overly aggressive immune response may benefit from immunosuppressants. We’re at the front edge of our learning curve in treatment.”

The time spent social distancing amid stay-at-home orders provided opportunities for scientists and researchers, allowing them to learn more about the virus and treatment options. 

“All of the efforts to slow the curve saved lives because it has given us knowledge, but there is a long way to go,” Dr. Haase said. “We do not have a cure. We do not have a vaccine. This is a disease that is best avoided, if at all possible, because there are also long term effects. I’ve mentioned that the very ill can be affected more deeply, but even the very young can have unexpected severe disease.”