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Testing, Testing For It

A World Health Organization official says testing is the key to containing COVID-19, the Economist writes. It notes that South Korea and Vo, a town in Italy, were able to contain the disease through testing and breaking the transmission chain.

The Economist adds that there are two types of testing. There's a PCR-based genetic test to detect SARS-CoV-2 among people thought to be infected. For that test, the Economist notes that turnaround time can be slow as testing is conducted in labs, but it adds that firms like BioMérieux and Cepheid are working on tests that can be conducted using portable machines.

The other test is a serological one and that, the Economist says, gauges whether someone was exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and recovered by looking for antibodies to the virus in their blood. BioMedomics has designed a test that uses a small amount of blood and can give results within about 15 minutes, it says. The Economist notes that it takes time to validate as serological tests as that requires people known not to have been infected and people who have recovered. But when they can be widely deployed, Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer tells the Economist that they would be a "game changer" for controlling SARS-CoV-2.