Covid-19 Tests: How Accurate and Feasible Are They?

Updated on April 8th, 2020
COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 tests have become scarce in some places. At the same time, some countries have reported falsy test kits, which lead to further spread of COVID-19. Spain is one of those countries that stopped using the kits they got from China after they realized that it only had an accuracy of 30%.

In this dire situation, shouldn’t the world be more careful around the diagnosis? It is one of the best ways to find positive cases, spread, and severity of the situation. These things can go a long way in reducing the severity and giving the ability to ward off the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hence, highly reliable tests are of more importance than ever.

How does the COVID-19 test work?

Symptoms like cough, fever, or difficulty breathing are cannot prove that a person is infected with COVID-19 because these are not only the signs of this infection but are also some of the most common symptoms of various respiratory or throat infections including cold and flu.

[Read: Coronavirus Testing: Everything You Need to Know]

However, few tests are being practiced around the globe to test for COVID-19. They are:

PCR tests

PCR tests

PCR tests(1) are some of the most common tests for COVID-19. In this procedure, samples of respiratory fluids are collected from the back of the throat using a cotton swab. They then check for the genetic material of the virus in those samples. In this testing, it can identify one of the genes wherein the results may or may not be conclusive. 

Serological Test

The serological test is the other way technique used by health experts to test for COVID-19. These tests collect blood samples from potential patients. Later, they check for antibodies in these blood samples. Antibodies for COVID-19 are present in the people who have already developed the symptoms or may have recently recovered from it.

The antibody test or serological test for COVID-19(2) is one of the best possible ways to check if the individuals can go back to their homes. It may also give a confirmation that the patient is no longer infected, who can prevent the spread or get reinfected.

On the other hand, if carried out correctly, a PCR test can detect COVID-19 without significant errors. In general, the errors in the analysis may range from 10% to 30%. But, in these situations, the tests should be optimized to get the results, which may help in preventing the spread any further.

[Read: Don’t Panic about Coronavirus: Here is why]

How Accurate Are These Tests?

Some experts claim that the current testing may or may not be 100% accurate or anywhere close to it. The results may be false or show error due to many reasons. It includes human error, insufficient amounts of sample, problems with the procedure, or even giving the tests too early or too late.

Besides, the symptoms of COVID-19(3) may or may not be visible in every infected person. In a few cases, the person may develop symptoms in a day or two from getting infected while others may or may not develop symptoms in the first two weeks. Here, the infection may get chronic, and the person may not even realize due to the asymptomatic condition of the virus.

Are There Any New Kits in Development?

Yes, nations around the globe are working on developing kits to detect the COVID-19. Some of them are working on devices that can help the health professionals check for the virus right at the location. It can help in quickening the process as they do not have to send the samples to the lab and wait for their response.

See Also
COVID-19 Vaccine

Such tests come in handy as they can help the government or hospitals to provide treatment in the early stages where the symptoms or the condition of the infected patient is mild.

Few companies are also working on advancing the way PCR or serological test kits work. They are trying to make it as simple as the pregnancy test works.

However, with the current technology, it is also making it difficult for the nations around the globe to test for large crowds. For example, small countries like South Korea has a relatively low population. Testing for more people is more accessible and also helps them in controlling the spread and providing early treatment.

However, for nations like India with more than a billion population, it can be difficult to test every person. Besides, the asymptomatic condition of the infection makes it even more challenging to check for probable spread.

[Read: Home Made Sanitizers to Kill Coronavirus: How to Make It?]


COVID-19 pandemic is growing day by day, threatening the global population. Testing and early detection are some of the best ways to help people recover and from the probable spread of the disease.

With the advancements in the testing, we should all hope to get a mobile handy kit that could help us in self-diagnosing or getting a diagnosis from any local center. It will surely be of great help in warding off and containing the COVID-19.

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