Since the beginning of the pandemic, Arkansas like other states have been dependent on commercial labs for COVID-19 testing.
Nearly 60 percent of the testing results in Arkansas are coming from commercial labs according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The national demand on these labs, though, has resulted in delays and prompted him to look at ways to expand testing within the Arkansas Department of Health.
The governor announced yesterday (July 27) that the Arkansas Department of Health will be acquiring 200 BP Veritor point-of-care antigen testing machines in effort to increase COVID-19 testing in the state.
“It gives you an immediate answer and immediate guidance. That’s the primary reason that you would utilize the point-of-care tests, the antigen tests. That’s why we bought 200 of them,” Hutchinson said.
Although no information was provided on how the testing machines will be distributed once they arrive, Hutchinson pointed out that the results will be presented separately since they are different from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results.
Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the two tests look at different parts of the coronavirus to determine if an individual is infected or not.
“The virus is essentially a ball of protein around genetic material like DNA or RNA,” Romero said, adding that the PCR tests look at the RNA of the virus while the antigen tests look “at the protein, the shell or pieces of the virus itself.”
He explained that the CDC considers a conclusively positive case of COVID-19 if an individual has a positive PCR test result. An antigen test currently is only considered a “presumptive positive” test result.
“It’s a presumptively positive test at this time if the individual has a positive antigen test, if you find a protein in the individual’s nose, which is usually where you look for it.”