Dr Alex explains two types of coronavirus tests – after gruelling shift on NHS front line – The Sun

LOVE Island's Dr Alex George has been providing his followers with insights from the NHS front line – as well as useful information about the deadly coronavirus.

In his latest video, the junior doctor, 30, explained the differences between the two types of tests for Covid-19, as the Government ramps up checks.

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Speaking from his home after a shift, Dr Alex explained that the government refer to them as the "have you got it" antigen test or the "have you had it" antibody test.

He told his YouTube viewers: "There's two types of tests really that we broadly split this into – so there's antigen testing versus antibody testing.

"Essentially if you split it it's a 'do you have it right now? Yes or no', and 'have you had it at some point? Yes or no and are you immune to that at present."

Antigen testing

Antigens are found on the surface of invading pathogens, including coronavirus.

Testing for antigens can determine whether someone is currently carrying the virus and are actively infectious.

The NHS is currently using antigen tests in hospitals to determine if someone is currently infected with Covid-19.

Dr Alex said: "Antigen testing is essentially: Is there the presence of that virus in your body right now? Is it there right now?

"And we're using swabs to do that – we're taking swabs from the nose or the throat, sending them away to a lab.

"They test that and look for viral PCR – it's a way of looking at whether there's the presence of the coronavirus there in the individual at that moment."

It can take days for labs to run the tests and tell people their result and so several companies are working on ways to fast track this type of testing.

Antibody testing

On the other hand the antibody test, is a finger-prick blood test, with the samples sent to laboratories and results available within a few days.

Speaking about this type of testing, Dr Alex added: "Antibody testing, is where we usually do a finger prick test or we take a sample of blood, and we look for antibodies against that virus – either IGG or IGM, the two types of antibodies we usually look for when doing these tests."

When a person gets infected with antigen, the body starts making specially designed proteins called antibodies in response – as a way to fight the infection.

After they recover, those antibodies float in the blood for months, maybe even years.

That's the body's way of defending itself in case it becomes infected with the virus again.


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The UK has faced criticism for being slow to test in comparison to other countries – with less than 5,000 daily swabs being carried out until March.

On the other hand, the South Korean Government have carried out 400,000 tests and got Covid-19 under control.

Downing Street have now suggested the UK's target of 25,000 daily checks may not be met until "mid to late April".

Following this, Dr Alex discussed why there has been this "barrier" to wide-spread testing in the UK.

He said: "Part of the reason is: a lot of these countries are ahead of us – they had cases much sooner. And in some cases, particularly like in South Korea, they were very quick to act.

"They were quick to act to buy up all the pieces and components they needed to do their testing.

"Because essentially, any testing kit has certain bits – you need your swabs, your sticks, your tubes, you need you the reagents, you need the stuff that actually tests the stuff itself – you need to acquire all those pieces.

"What's happened is around the world, everyone has tried to buy the components and parts to these testing kits and because we're a little bit later on to the game, we are now in a very different market place now to get hold of these bits of equipment."

Dr Alex spoke about testing after documenting his day on shift in London at University Hospital Lewisham's A&E department.

The reality star explained how he's seen a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the past few days.

"Departments up and down the UK are getting busier and busier as the pressure from coronavirus builds up," he said.

"We're seeing more patients requiring ventilators, requiring specialist input and support from us in the accident and emergency department.

"We're very grateful for those who are maintaining social distancing, who are staying at home, because at the end of the day that's what's going to take pressure off us on the front line, and allow us to keep as many people safe and the death rate as low as possible."

He added: "We've split the department into sections, almost military style, keeping those patients who may be infected away from those without coronavirus symptoms."

Despite the worrying situation, Dr Alex reassured his followers that moral on the frontline was good, saying: "I just wanted to give you an insight into what's going on at the moment.

"My spirits are high and I feel that we've got enough protective equipment on the frontline to do what we need to do and to be able to perform our job as safely as possible."

Just yesterday, the total number of people infected with coronavirus in the UK rose to 33,718 – and the death toll now stands at 2,961.

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