By Gina Castro
Pensacola’s Medical Specialties Group of Louisiana (MSGLA) created a COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit that can show results within 5 to 10 minutes. This COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test functions as a chromatographic immunoassay, which is when an antibody is attached to a support and used to help measure a specific aspect, to detect IgG and IgM antibodies in blood, serum and plasma. John F. Carter of MSGLA explained that the process of the test is just a prick of a finger. The blood sample is then added to the test applicator. If the test results are negative, a solid red line will appear by the “C,” which stands for control. Negative results mean that the IgG and IgM antibodies were not detected.
“If you come up positive on this test, then you can self-quarantine for the 14 days that the federal government wants. If you come up negative, you go about your day,” Carter said. “If you do come up positive and your symptoms worsen over several days, then you now have to go to the hospital and tell the health care provider that you tested positive seven days ago.”
MSGLA’s website shows that the accuracy for the test ranges between 97.8 percent to 99.6 percent. This rapid test, which is FDA approved, is faster than the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which is what health care providers have been using to test for COVID-19. PCR results, though very accurate, can take three to five days to give results. Because COVID-19 can take up to two weeks to show symptoms in an individual, this virus is spreading rapidly across the world and the U.S. As of March 25, there are 1,227 cases of COVID-19 in Florida, and 14 cases in Escambia County.
“I think the important part is for more people to have knowledge whether they are positive or negative. We need more results to understand where this thing is going. The only way that it benefits all of us is that more tests get done,” Carter explained. “We’re already hearing that hospitals and urgent cares are overcrowded. Somehow more testing needs to get to the marketplace, and we think we have the ability to play a role in that.”
The overall cost for this rapid test is $49.95, and currently, health insurance does not cover its cost. However, Carter said that MSGLA has already submitted the necessary paperwork so that health insurance can reimburse those who purchase this test and are waiting upon approval. MSGLA is also working with local healthcare providers to get this rapid test into hospitals and urgent cares. MSGLA is unable to test patients within its facility.
Carter said that MSGLA hopes to share this test nationwide. They sent a test kit proposal to Vice President Mike Pence, who is a member within the COVID-19 Task Force, and are waiting for his response. To learn more about this test, visit msgofla.us/products/.