When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Singaporeans learnt a few things:

  • We absolutely adore toilet paper
  • Circuit Breaker isn’t a fusebox in your living room
  • People who are working from home spend an average of S$3.21 per day

We’ve also learnt a few things about the intricacies of COVID-19, including how the authorities are ferreting cases out effectively.

So effectively that if testing for COVID-19 is an Olympic event, we’ll win first place. Hands down.

Tests include the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and the serology test, which we’re all familiar with, and the latest Antigen Rapid Test (ART), which has to be used at events before being allowed entry into the venue.

But what exactly is the ART, and how does it work?

If you prefer to watch a lady talk about this topic instead, here’s a video we’ve done (watch till the end for a surprise):

True To Its Name

As its name suggests, the antigen rapid test produces results way faster than PCR tests.

If PCR was an overweight Singaporean NSman running 2.4km, the antigen test would be Usain Bolt.

Currently, it takes about two days for PCR test results to come out, including the time needed to send the samples to the laboratory for testing.

On the other hand, Antigen tests require as little as 30 minutes to detect any active COVID-19 infections.

How It Works:

The PCR test operates by obtaining a swap sample from a person, then “photocopying” it millions of time before looking within to study the genetics of the virus.

Typically, this procedure requires a large machine in the laboratory and a long, complex process.

Antigen tests, on the other hand, only requires a small test kit.

Unlike the PCR test that looks “into” a virus’s genetics, the antigen test looks at the molecules on the surface of a virus.

In a nutshell, you can say that the PCR test cuts open a virus to study what’s inside, while an antigen test looks at what’s on the surface.

Speed Vs Accuracy

Of course, the world is fair and you can’t have the cake and eat it too.

While the antigen test is scarily fast, it pales in comparison to PCR tests when it comes to accuracy.

Just look at the Trump case and you know what I’m talking about.

That doesn’t mean that the antigen test is useless.

At least not in Singapore where kiasuism is a religion.

Should anyone be tested positive with the antigen test, they’ll immediately be sent to undergo the PCR test, our most powerful weapon against COVID-19 so far.

And if someone were to suay-suay slip under the radar? That’s when TraceTogether comes in to put a stop to all the nonsense as soon as humanly possible.

The Most Important Question: 

Will our noses be spared?

Unfortunately, both PCR and antigen tests require the same nasal swab samples from you.

So if your only concern after hearing about these tests is the well-being of your nose, I’m afraid to share that no matter which test you’re going for, your nose is unable to escape unscathed.

On a separate note, free nose cleaning.

Feature Image: A*STAR (Image for illustration purpose only)

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