Covid has not been easy on anyone at all. From kids to senior citizens, it has affected everyone in the worst possible way. However, the most affected people are the healthcare workers which includes everyone associated with the medical field. They all were the first ones to deal with its consequences. They still are the ones dealing with it while simultaneously trying to eradicate the impact of covid-19. It is due to the efforts of these healthcare workers the world has made it this far. One problem remains which is the collection of samples for covid -19 testing. You must be thinking why is it a problem when it is such an easy process. Let’s get into it. (Lawless)
One thing which scientists and doctors recommend is home testing for SARS-CoV-2. It helps a great deal in preventing the spread of covid. This option is still not an easy way to go with. At-home collection of samples mean more time, more resources, and more hassle. But there is a solution for every problem and so was one found for this problem as well. One of the companies DNA Genotek developed self-sample collection tools. Yes, you read it right. Potential patients can collect their samples and send them for examination. How brilliant is this? Well, this technique or such sample collection tools mean less labor is required, hence fewer people are exposed to the sample and thus covid.
The current sample collection method is extremely crucial. It may look easy to the patient as it is a simple swab test. But that swab needs certain environmental conditions for the sample to not be destroyed. The current method is based upon RNA extraction from the nasopharyngeal swabs. That RNA is not at all environment friendly and can be distorted with even slight disturbance in the standard conditions for it. For example, it is sensitive to temperature, pH, freeze-thaw, etc. It is to note that after the sample collected, they are to be stabilized immediately. This has to be done because of the limited resources such as cold storage rooms. Handling of RNA extraction samples must be safe as well. It can only be done if there is only a limited number of staff to deal with those samples. Another problem associated with using an RNA extraction kit is the compatibility of the transportation medium with RNA.
The traditional nasal or throat swab testing is not only limited to RNA extraction from the swab. Once the RNA is extracted, a DNA extraction kit is used to create or convert the RNA into complementary DNA which is then tested for covid-19. Both these steps are carried out as carefully as possible since a slight change in the sample can yield out wrong results. Covid-19 is lethal and wrong test results cannot be tolerated at any cost.
There are still several countries around the globe that lacks the resources and infrastructure which is needed to detect covid-19 as per the World Health Organization. This is not a good sign with many countries going through the third wave of covid-19 while many are on the brink of it. Developing countries are the ones going through this crisis the most. Why is that? Well, the recommended method by WHO is reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Now, these tests require RNA extraction kits of course, and hence DNA extraction kits. The RT-PCR machines are expensive and extremely trained staff is required to operate them and handle the samples. Not to forget the temperature and other external factors that are needed to be maintained for the tests. So, not only the RT-PCR testing is crucial around the world but it is especially a headache for developing countries.
In the end, it all comes to the point that sampling of covid-19 is not as easy as it seems. There are many obstacles attached to it out of which the most crucial ones are mentioned above. As long as the strict restrictions remain to keep the samples safe, sample collection will not be an easy task. The most feasible method of sampling at this point is self-sampling kits that also subtract the danger of spreading covid-19.
Lawless, K. (n.d.). Overcoming the challenges of sample collection for COVID-19. DNA genotek.