It has been 2 years since the Covid-19 pandemic started and the world has gotten used to living with the Covid-19 virus.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri has also recently announced that the country will move forward to the endemic phase. This means we’ll probably have to live with it as we do with the common cold.
By now, we are all well aware that there are 2 different types of tests used to detect COVID-19, such as RTK-Antigen self-tests as well as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with the latter usually conducted in a clinic or hospital.
While PCR tests are generally proven to be much more accurate than the RTK-Antigen (RTK-Ag) self-test kits we can find at the local pharmacy, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that we should depend more on RTK tests instead of PCR tests.
In a video shared on social media, Khairy explained that this is because PCR tests are extremely expensive and that the RTK-Ag tests are sufficient to detect positive cases with higher infectivity rates.
“Even people who have recovered from their infection could still test positive under the RT-PCR tests,” he added.
PCR tests can detect the most minute traces of the virus, even in people who have recovered and are no longer infectious which will lead to a situation where you’d get a positive test result but you’d no longer need to quarantine any more.
In addition, Khairy said the PCR tests take a long time to generate results and in most cases, you’ll need to wait up to 24 hours for your results. With the RTK-Ag test, it will take you only 15 minutes.
He explained that in the age of the Omicron variant, which is highly infectious and spreads very quickly, timing is everything. Having to wait up to 24 hours just for a Covid-19 test result is too much in time of urgency.
“The RTK-Ag tests are more effective as it reduces the waiting time to identify a positive case,” Khairy said.
“So, it is better for 1,000 people tested with RTK-Antigen compared to 10 people who undergo RT-PCR.”
Commenting on the quality of the RTK test kits, Khairy said the Medical Device Authority (MDA) is making continuous efforts to monitor the quality of various self-test kits currently in circulation.
He also said that people who are tested positive through RTK-Ag kits don’t need to verify their results with an additional PCR test. Instead, they should undergo quarantine as soon as they test positive.
However, the PCR tests will remain a need for people who wish to travel abroad, especially when Malaysia reopen its borders on 1 April 2022.
Watch the video below: