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Antigen tests: the coronavirus ‘breakthrough’ that a top White House official says we need – CNN

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According to Birx, that breakthrough is antigen testing. Often used to check for the flu and strep, antigen tests look for pieces of a virus — often the proteins that cover its surface.

That differs from most coronavirus tests, which look for the virus’ genetic material and require a number of chemicals to operate, many of which are in short supply. The tests can also take hours to run.

“There will never be the ability on a nucleic acid test to do 300 million tests a day or to test everybody before they go to work or to school,” Birx said earlier this month. “But there might be with the antigen test.”

With a potential market of hundreds of millions of tests a day, why doesn’t the US already have antigen tests?

For starters, they’re not easy to make, and validating their accuracy can be time-consuming and expensive. There also hasn’t been a big market for them before now.

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The first tests for the coronavirus looked for specific genetic sequences, which were identified within weeks. Once those sequences were selected, tests could be made quickly — barring manufacturing issues and supply chain shortages.

But antigen tests are tailored to the 3D structure of the targeted virus, which…



Read More: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/27/health/antigen-tests-coronavirus-breakthrough/index.html

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Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/27/health/antigen-tests-coronavirus-breakthrough/index.html

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