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COVID-19 Testing, Preventive Measures, and Ethical Issues

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Covid-19: Health Disparities and Ethical Challenges Across the Globe
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With the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, mitigation measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus were promoted by officials in government leadership and scientists. However, as lockdowns ensued worldwide, some suffered from the consequences of job loss, economic insecurity, lack of access to healthcare or quality education, or violence within their home. Once tests for COVID-19 slowly became available more widely, ethical issues became a focal point. Marginalized groups were disproportionately unable to use tests or refused to test due to where they lived, an inability to work from home, or distrust of the healthcare system. Further, individuals were not the only ones who viewed the results of their tests as surveillance testing was used for widespread contact tracing to help the community as a whole. Internationally, countries were sometimes more invasive in prevention, such as through the use of phone applications or location tracking, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Countries that had less access to testing and other preventative measures also suffered disproportionately. Throughout the pandemic, conspiracy theories spread on social media, attacking those in public health and minimizing the threat of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, seemingly in ignorance of those who had died or lost someone to COVID-19. Although systemic issues regarding physical and mental health became more noticeable during the pandemic and are important to address further, a key takeaway that anyone can apply is that disease prevention—when possible—is beneficial.

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  1. 1.

    RT-PCR stands for reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and NAAT stands for nucleic acid amplification test. A reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test is the full name for the polymerase chain reaction test used for SARS-CoV-2, as it is specific to RNA and requires reverse transcription. RT-PCR is one type of NAAT, which identifies genetic material; in this case, it identifies genetic material in RNA that is part of SARS-CoV-2. Importantly, these terms are, colloquially, used interchangeably (Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests, 2021).

  2. 2.

    Quantitative transcription PCR, or qPCR, is a form of technology that allows for quantification of genetic material in RNA transcripts that have been reverse transcribed in DNA (Heid et al., 1996).


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Correspondence to Megan Hall .

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Hall, M. (2023). COVID-19 Testing, Preventive Measures, and Ethical Issues. In: Searight, H.R. (eds) Covid-19: Health Disparities and Ethical Challenges Across the Globe. Springer, Cham.

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