It is welcome news that the pharmaceutical industry in conjunction with key academic partners have managed to develop and launch vaccinations for COVID-19 in record time.
With a number of regulatory bodies having approved their use and the vaccine having already reached millions of vulnerable patients around the world, the next question we have to ask is “how will we ensure long-term coverage for every patient in the world?”
No doubt vaccinating entire populations against COVID-19 would be the ideal, but how realistic is this expectation?
Clinical Director, Samir Dhalla, shares his views on how a blended strategy that encourages herd immunity alongside the vaccination programme offers a more viable long-term solution to protecting mass populations across the globe.
“It is already being reported that equal access to the vaccine in poorer countries is failing. Position this alongside anti vaccination movements and there is potential for huge gaps in the vaccination programme. If we assume instead that a percentage of the worlds population will be vaccinated, and adapt a secondary complimentary strategy alongside this programme to support heard immunity, then we stand a much better chance of securing the health of many more patients.”
Dhalla continues “This is where we find the role of rapid testing, both Antigen type rapid tests – which check if you have the virus now – and Antibody rapid testing – which detect if you have antibodies to the virus, although be it for a limited period. Introduction of rapid testing as a mainstay in the long-term fight against this disease will be crucial to ensure monitoring of populations can be conducted and this will enable governments and nations to be pro-active in this area.”
Where antigen testing is useful in opening up borders, it does not guarantee that the virus is not entirely absent due to a period of latency and the sensitivity and specificity of such tests in viral load detection.
When considering rapid antibody tests, the scenario is slightly different. A patient, who shows signs of antibodies in their system, already knows that they then have some form of protection against the virus, and more importantly are less likely to be re-infected, thus preventing potential future spread of the disease.
With both antigen and rapid antibody tests being proven to produce results within 10-20 minutes, there is a huge potential for faster and more active disease management, which when positioned alongside the vaccination programme can help to accelerate the protection of much wider populations by allowing national bodies and governments to make more informed decisions.
Saltex Pharma specialises in bringing such technologies to new markets, ensuring equal access to pharmaceutical products that support better health and care for patients. For more information around antigen and antibody testing, contact us at email@example.com