Today, the question of whether you have been vaccinated is becoming increasingly common as the government steps up efforts to implement the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Another relevant question could be, “Have you undergone COVID-19 testing?”
Many seem to be indifferent to the question for some reason, despite the importance of early detection of COVID-19 through testing.
The public at large is surely more familiar with vaccination, as most people have been encouraged to get vaccinated to boost their immunity.
While the vaccination drive remains in progress, the issue of the need for coronavirus testing has come to the fore given the persistence of the crisis and the slow progress of vaccination.
Experts say that vaccination programs promise to curb COVID-19. But governments and businesses are increasingly accepting what epidemiologists have long predicted: The pathogen in a growing number of variants will circulate for years, or even decades.
Routine coronavirus testing is now recognized as an essential addition to the existing arsenal that communities have in the fight against the spread of the virus and its variants, all the while continuing the vaccination program.
Mass testing is, therefore, needed to pave the way for communities to coexist with the virus, as is the case with endemic diseases such as the flu and measles.
How aware are people about the need for testing in Indonesia?
Raymod Tambunan, a psychologist, said disease prevention, including coronavirus testing, had yet to become part of the nation’s lifestyle.
“For many, testing to detect whether they have an active COVID-19 infection or not is considered strange,” said Raymond from Jakarta during a virtual discussion.
The discussion, titled “Diligent COVID-19 Testing: The New Normal”, was held on Aug. 26 by Zurich-based global health tech company Achiko AG, in collaboration with state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Indofarma Tbk.
To illustrate, many Indonesians weren’t in the habit of getting general health checkups and regular dental exams, which are good for one’s long-term well-being, Raymond said.
Despite financial constraints, many don’t embrace the habit of testing because it doesn’t give them an immediate psychological effect, according Raymond.
“Those with the mindset feeling that they need routine testing believe that undergoing routine testing is how they protect themselves and others, but the number of people with such mindset is still low,” he said.
That is why it’s essential to educate people about testing in order to raise their awareness about why disease prevention measures, including coronavirus testing, are necessary.
Factors discouraging people from taking routine tests include believing testing is expensive and inconvenient. “Some also complain that they cannot get test results immediately,” he remarked.
He noted that providers of diagnostic testing should be more consumer-centric to encourage them to participate in testing by offering them a test that was not only affordable and accurate, but also convenient during the testing process.
Aside from educating people about testing, he suggested creating a new standard of public service by, for example, collaborating with banks or schools.
Banks can, for example, set a policy requiring consumers to show health test results, in this case negative COVID-19 results, before entering the bank, according to Raymond. “Make sure that employees or students get health benefits from affordable, easy and convenient testing,” he said.
He expressed confidence that with constant education about health testing, more people would enthusiastically undergo the COVID-19 testing without being forced.
Moderated by Dr Winda O. Panjaitan, the discussion also featured Achiko AG CEO Steven Goh, Achiko AG President Dr Morris S. Berrie, Achiko AG Senior VP Operations Asia Windiaprana Ramelan, Inventor of AptameX Dr Michael Edel, PT Indofarma Tbk President Director (CEO) Arief Pramuhanto, Health & and Lifestyle Influencer Wanda Hamidah, and Eijkman Institute head Professor Amin Soebandrio.
Wanda said that to her, undergoing regular COVID-19 testing for early detection of the virus was important because when she worked or did a workout, she went out and met friends.
She lamented that taking a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was costly, which drove her to seek other types of testing as an alternative.
She said negative test result documentation was needed when she traveled by plane or when she had to enter buildings. “That’s why I take coronavirus tests regularly, which will protect me and others with whom I interact, including my family, my parents and friends,” she said.
Negative test results made her more comfortable, including when she cycled with friends. “Although we have taken coronavirus tests, we adhere to the health protocols, such as wearing a mask and keeping physically distant,” said Wanda, referring to her experience in cycling with her friends as her healthy hobby.
According to her, nasal swab testing was uncomfortable for many, which partly discouraged them from taking the coronavirus test.
During the test, a long stick with a soft brush on the end, kind of like a pipe cleaner, is inserted up a participant’s nose and twirled around for a few seconds.
Currently, the different types of COVID-19 tests available include PCR tests, lateral flow tests (LFTs) and antibody (or serology) tests.
People will have another option for coronavirus testing with the production of the AptameX diagnostic test for COVID-19, which was revealed during the discussion.
Dr. Michael Edel PhD, inventor of AptameX, said that the test was based on DNA aptamer technology, which could bind with COVID-19 virus proteins in saliva samples and was linked with gold nanoparticles in a colorimetric test format. “If positive for COVID-19, the color changes, and that can be detected, measured and the results calculated,” Edel said.
According to Achiko AG, the test was developed and clinically trialed in Pekan Baru, Indonesia, with the results showing sensitivity figures superior to a typical lateral flow test.
Highlighting the simple process of testing and affordability, Windiaprana Ramelan, Senior VP of Operations, Asia, for Achiko AG, said users would be able to easily conduct testing by rinsing with a mouthwash, collecting a saliva sample and dropping it off at a partner clinic or hospital which would then “deliver the test results to their smartphone in minutes through our digital passport technology platform, Teman Sehat [Health Buddy]”. He said that AptameX was strategically designed to utilize ultra-low-cost materials, allowing for lower production costs, which enabled Achiko Medika Indonesia to initially price AptameX below Rp 50,000 (US$ 3.45).
Achiko Medika Indonesia anticipates an even lower cost of testing in the future as manufacturing and distribution efficiencies are captured.
Achiko AG President Dr. Morris S. Berrie said AptameX was designed to be easy to use and affordable and therefore accessible to anyone. “We believe AptameX and our digital passport technology platform, Teman Sehat, will be important diagnostic resources for years to come.”
Achiko Medika Indonesia plans to commence production of its introductory AptameX COBID-19 test kits over the next two months. “We hope that the issuance of permits for AptameX products can help in overcoming the pandemic in Indonesia,” said Arief Pramuhanto, President Director of PT Indofarma Tbk, Achiko’s partner.
So, the coming presence of affordable and convenient but accurate testing may lead you to have a certain answer to the question, “Have you undergone testing?”
Artikel diambil dari The Jakarta Post dengan judul artikel “Testing allows communiities to coexist with coronavirus . Artikel asli dapat dibaca di sini.