Testing for COVID-19. That's what we're going to talk about in Science in 5 today. Hello, I'm Vismita Gupta-Smith and this is WHO’s conversations in science. We are talking to Dr. Hanan Balkhy today, who’s going to explain testing for COVID-19. Welcome, Hanan.
Dr. Hanan Balkhy
Thank you very much, Vismita. It's a pleasure to be with you today.
Hanan, there are many kinds of tests that are available to the public. When a person decides ‘I think I need testing’, can you explain what are the different kinds of tests available to them and how they should choose?
Dr. Hanan Balkhy
Thank you, Vismita. Yes, this indeed is one of the most popular questions. There are three categories of testing, if I would want to simplify them. The first one is to identify whether the actual COVID virus genetic material exists, and that's called a NAAT test, N-A-A-T. And it's the PCR testing where you would have a nasal pharyngeal swab or a pharyngeal swab taken. And then they look for the genetic material of the virus itself.The second type of testing is when they try to identify one of the outer proteins of the viral shell or envelope, if you will. And that's called antigen testing. So, they try to detect the outer protein of the virus. And the third type is to detect within the human body, whether they’ve developed antibodies. So, it looks for antibodies that are specific to the outer portion of the virus itself. So, it shows whether the individual has mounted an immune response or developed immunity towards that specific virus or to COVID. So, those are the three big categories of testing that exist.
Hanan, we hear the terms antigens and antibodies a lot. Could you please explain that in layman's terms?