Anatomy of the COVID-19 Virus
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus now known as the SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain which has not previously been identified in humans.
The core protein of SARS-CoV-2 is the N protein (Nucleocapsid protein), which is a protein component located inside the virus and is often used as a tool for diagnosis of coronaviruses.
Types of Tests to Detect COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2)
This test looks for virus genetic material (DNA) from a nasal pharyngeal, throat swab or by saliva of a SARS-CoV-2 virus infected person. Using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology will amplify the detection of viral load, if present.
Using a nasal, throat swab or by saliva, this test detects the proteins of the virus – antigens – rather than viral DNA. This test is useful to detect if a person is currently infected especially when they have a high SARS-CoV-2 virus load.
As a SARS-CoV-2 virus invades the body, our immune system detects viral proteins (antigens) and mounts an immune response by producing antibodies to block antigen effects quickly creating IgM and soon after, longer lasting, IgG antibodies.