The major dates of COVID
On December 31, 2019, China informed the WHO of the appearance of an atypical form of pneumonia. After conducting additional research, on January 7, 2020, the Chinese authorities announced that this pneumonia was caused by a new coronavirus: SARS-COV-2 causing the disease COVID-19.
This new coronavirus spread rapidly around the world and on March 11, 2020, the WHO declared this a pandemic. A few days later, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, France experienced its first day of lockdown. A lockdown which finished six weeks later on May 3, 2020. The unprecedented nature of this measure unquestionably left its mark on the French people.
This new coronavirus succeeded in achieving the unthinkable: putting the whole world on pause.
The coronavirus family
Coronaviruses form the Coronaviridae family. They are grouped together on the basis of common characteristics: they have a protein crown on their surface, visible under an electron microscope. Before SARS-COV-2, coronaviruses were known to be benign viruses causing simple colds or influenza-like conditions. Up to that point, only SARS-COV and MERS-COV had resulted in deaths but had only caused epidemics in restricted geographical areas.
Faced with the rapidity of spread of this new coronavirus, on January 11, 2020, the WHO communicated the first COVID-19 screening protocol using PCR detection.
Screening for COVID-19
Screening by PCR is based on the principle of probes that recognize the genetic material of the virus and copy it. This step, called “amplification”, loads the sample with genetic material to make it detectable by the analysis methods. This technique is very reliable but requires a time frame of 24 hrs to obtain results because of lengthy manipulations of the patient sample.
This is why screening for COVID-19 via antigen tests was introduced. Here, we are no longer looking for the genetic material of the virus, but simply its surface proteins. The antigen (the surface protein of the virus) is recognized by a specific antibody. If the antigen is present (and therefore the virus), a colored band appears on the test: the result is positive. If the antigen is not present (and therefore the virus is absent), no colored band appears on the test: the result is negative. This method is subject to several errors but largely helps to limit the spread of the virus because of results which are obtained rapidly in 15 min.
It was against this background of emergency mass screening that Magentine developed its tools to facilitate the work of healthcare professionals. Our tools guide the practitioner step by step through the test process to prevent errors due to inattentiveness and data input. All results are sent directly to the French screening information system (SIDEP) without the health professional having to go online and enter the information manually. We have optimized our tools in order to save practitioners time on tests at all steps of the process before, during and after the test.