Test kits that are widely used for rapid testing COVID-19 infections are based on the lateral flow method. It works by targeting antibodies created by the human body to fight the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection.
Tests utilizing the lateral flow method work fast however the results are heavily dependent on the patient’s immune system. The test is prone to false negatives if the patient has an immune system disorder or has recently consumed immunosuppressant medication. Another issue is in the timing of the test.
If the test is done too early, it is possible that the patient’s immune system has not produced enough antibodies to fight the infection. If the patient is already cured, there is a chance that there are antibodies specific to the virus that are still present.
For those reasons, the government recommends, for patients who have received a positive rapid test result, to take the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. This test is more accurate as it targets the RNA of the COVID-19 virus.
Nusantics, together with the other members of BPPT’s COVID-19 task force, is developing working prototypes of a PCR test kit that will be tested and mass produced by various institutions including Bio Farma, BPPT, and Indonesia International Institute for Life Sciences.
A PCR test is a molecular test that targets the RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nusantics plans to develop and produce a qPCR test that targets gene N and gene RdRP, two genes believed to be the most sensitive in detecting a coronavirus infection.
Gene N or Nucleocapsid is the shell that protects the nucleus of the virus, whereas RdRP or RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase is the gene that the virus uses to replicate itself after infection of a human cell.
If both tests are positive, the patient is diagnosed as a positive COVID-19 case.