The value of Diagnostics in managing COVID-19
Widespread, reliable testing can help the world chart a course back to normal life.more
Published 23 June 2021
Our bodies work constantly to protect us from external threats but when disease is suspected, diagnostic tools help to accurately identify disease and inform appropriate action.
Globalisation can make the world feel like a small place, resulting in a new level proximity that doesn’t just bring people closer together, it allows viruses, bacteria and disease-causing microorganisms to spread more easily.
Globally, infectious diseases are a leading cause of death across all age groups.3 With early identification, treatment is often effective. The reality is, however, that many infections are never diagnosed. Without treatment, curable diseases including pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis can become life-threatening. Diseases associated with cancer, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C, can progress, causing serious complications.4 While our ability to identify and monitor disease has improved from previous generations, there is still much work to be done.
The spread of COVID-19 showed the world’s vulnerability to new and emerging disease-causing viruses, for which there are no tests or treatments. Within just a few weeks almost every country reported infections and deaths, billions of people could only leave their homes for essential purposes, economic activity plummeted and healthcare systems quickly became overburdened.5
Unfortunately, this is just one example. Across the globe people face the complexities of infectious disease on a daily basis.
Improved diagnostic testing strategies have the potential to help individuals, societies and healthcare systems mitigate the impact of disease.
Diagnostics have become indispensable in identifying and monitoring infectious disease, providing prognoses, determining the best treatment options and predicting treatment responses.6 To manage the wide variety and variability of infectious diseases, comprehensive testing strategies and access to innovative diagnostic tools are essential.
Traditionally, testing is performed in a central laboratory. Advances in automation, test design and analytics are allowing more samples to be processed in less time, but for some infections, time is of the essence. Point-of-care tests, which are performed in close proximity to the patient, such as in an emergency care setting, shorten the time needed to generate results. This allows for earlier identification of infection and initiation of appropriate treatment, which can limit transmission while reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics.
By administering the right test at the right time, both the quality and cost of care can improve.
Between 60% and 70% of medical decisions are based on in vitro diagnostic test results.7 Throughout each patient’s journey, specific tests are used to inform critical decisions at every stage.
Combating the spread of infectious disease has been a priority for us for decades. We have several initiatives in place to help control this broad category of disease.
Our solid global supply chain allows us to meet the needs of labs and hospitals everywhere in the world, providing essential machines and testing materials.
Supporting innovation remains a core focus area at Roche, helping us to better understand and identify disease while pushing diagnostics and treatment forward.
As new threats emerge and known diseases affect lives, we will continue to work diligently to find innovative solutions to support people and healthcare systems around the world.