June 5, 2023

The reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test is done in a molecular laboratory to detect the SARS-CoV2. It is a nucleic acid amplification test.
Nucleic acid called RNA (ribonucleic acid) of the virus present in saliva or in a specimen taken through swabbing of the upper respiratory tract the nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal area is converted to another form of nucleic acid called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
The DNA is then amplified or multiplied – several copies are created to increase the ability of the test to detect the viral DNA. This amplification process goes through several cycles until a detectable number of the virus is reached. The “cycle threshold” or CT value refers to the number of cycles needed to detect the Covid-19 virus. The lower the CT value the higher the viral load, and vice versa.
Not all RT-PCR results indicate the CT value. In situations where it is reported, the CT value can aid in decisions on whether a Covid-19 patient may be discharged from a hospital, or may discontinue infection control precautions like self-isolation and thus allowed to mingle with family.
Decisions on discontinuation of infection control precautions are also guided by absence or presence of symptoms. The choice depends on the patient type, whether he or she is immunocompetent or immunocompromised.
It also depends on the degree of severity of the illness whether mild, moderate, severe, or critical. Patients are advised to observe self-isolation, masking, and other infection control measures until they meet certain criteria. Guidelines are followed and frequent consultation between health care providers, local government units, and other persons involved in a patient’s care are done before decisions are made.

Should we avoid mingling with persons who recovered from Covid-19? Should we even avoid going near the house or the barangay of a person who had Covid-19?
Infection with SARS-CoV2 is not a lifetime disease. The virus does not stay with its victim forever. The post-inflammatory and other complications like cough may linger but the person is non-infectious.
There are no studies showing that SARS-CoV2 makes its victim a carrier who will spread the infection. After days of quarantine, monitoring and tests, patients are given a clearance by doctors. The stigma we are tempted to attach to the illness can harm persons who are recovering from the infection they never wanted to have and cause them more unnecessary anxiety.
Fear and anxiety during the illness are well-known effects of Covid-19 in most patients and these psychological effects do not go away right away. Wrong attitude from people around them can add to the psychological trauma.

Could vaccination make you test positive for RT-PCR test? There is no proof that vaccination makes your test positive for Covid-19.

Are you still unvaccinated because you do not believe in vaccination or are afraid of its side effects? Take courage, because your decision to be vaccinated could be the greatest act of kindness that you will make. Kindness to yourself because the vaccine will prevent you from having severe or critical Covid-19. If you do not get infected you can help more people. Kindness to others too – your family, your co-workers, your clients, and others who closely associate with you. If you do not get infected, you do not spread the virus to them.

Should you invest and stock up on Ivermectin, Chloroquine, suob materials, antibiotics like Azithromycin, cough syrup, or mega doses of vitamin C “just in case you might need them?” There is no scientific proof that these will prevent or treat Covid-19.
Self-medication and the false feeling of security that it gives will delay diagnosis, much needed treatment and the necessary isolation precautions if it turns out that your symptoms are due to Covid-19.
Taken with balanced and adequate diet, rest, healthy lifestyle, and in the appropriate dose (dose adjustments are necessary for some vitamins if one has comorbid conditions like liver or kidney disease), vitamins will boost the body’s immune system and help it fight off infectious agents or make the illness less severe. Neither can high or megadoses of vitamins or food supplements take the place of social distancing, masking, and vaccination.

An item that one may consider buying is a good pulse oximeter, a gadget that helps monitor the oxygen saturation of the blood. In Covid-19, the virus can cause inflammation of the lungs or of the heart in which case oxygenation of the blood is compromised. Hospitals will admit severe and critical Covid-19 cases but asymptomatic, mild and moderate cases will either be advised to be in quarantine facilities – if there is vacancy, or do self-monitoring at home. A pulse oximeter will come in handy.

Rooting for a booster dose of your vaccine? It has already been shown that antibody titers wane after six to seven months, hence we need a dose to remind our immune system to produce more antibodies. Guidelines will be issued for these booster doses, with immunocompromised persons being one of the priority groups.

“Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”– Scott Adams

Medical questions and suggestions may be emailed to [email protected] or [email protected].