As of earlier this month, the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine eligibility deadline for all adults across the U.S. has been moved up to April 19th. This is welcome news to a nation that has been battling the coronavirus for more than a year. With the CDC reporting more than 174 million vaccine doses administered, many are wondering if an end to the pandemic could be within sight.
Considering vaccine unpredictability, and the threat of new strains, however, it’s challenging to determine the virus’s trajectory with certainty. What we do know is that testing will remain as important as ever — and here’s why.
Help Control the Spread
Whether or not a patient has received the vaccine, if they are exhibiting symptoms or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19, getting them tested is a wise practice. This is because FDA-approved vaccines have an efficacy range from 72% to 95%. So, while vaccines can prevent contagion, there’s still a small chance patients could contract the virus. By determining whether a persistent cough is simply seasonal allergies, or an actual case of coronavirus, you’ll all know for certain what care and quarantine measures are recommended next.
Also, receiving vaccine eligibility does not always coincide with the opportunity to obtain it. Challenges with supply levels, distribution, or communication efforts could prevent eligible populations from becoming fully vaccinated for many weeks. Continuing to test patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 or show symptoms of the disease will help verify diagnoses and inform your best response.
Give Experts More Data
Testing is also an important epidemiological tool for disease experts. Even though the threat of an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 appears to be decreasing, routine testing provides a surveillance tactic that gives researchers insights into how and why isolated outbreaks may occur within specific communities.
Moreover, routine testing gives scientists an even closer look at how disease variants are spreading. Viruses evolve over time, and some variants can be especially concerning, because they may spread more easily or produce more severe symptoms. The CDC uses data from state and local health departments, diagnostic laboratories, and universities to study the spread of different virus variants, which can help inform vaccine and treatment efforts. This is why your testing results will be important to track.
Tell Us if Vaccines Are Working
One of the most important reasons why it’s not time to give up on COVID-19 testing is that the data collected now will help experts determine whether vaccination efforts are working effectively. If positive tests continue to trend downward, it may suggest vaccines are doing their job in keeping people protected. The CDC has already published data confirming that the vaccine has been effective in the earliest populations to receive it, including health care professionals and other essential workers, but greater data pools will yield increasingly accurate insights.
As recommended by the CDC, LifeBrite Laboratory offers Respiratory Pathogen Profile testing to rule out other respiratory viruses prior to COVID-19 screenings, due to the limited availability of tests. To inquire about this service, contact our corporate office at (678) 433-0607.
Learn more about LifeBrite
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. To learn more about our services and facilities, visit our website or call 678-433-0607.