COVID-19 testing is not a foreign term. According to Statistica, a total of over 186 million tests for COVID-19 had taken place in the United States by November 26, 2020. Coronavirus testing is an important tool to help us understand the pandemic as well as control it. However, not all covid-19 testing is the same, and many patients don’t fully understand the differences between the types of COVID-19 tests and what they mean.
To understand the differences in the tests, it helps to understand the range of tests available for COVID-19. Broadly speaking, there diagnostic tests that identify an active infection of the virus as well as antibody tests that can help determine if a person has already had COVID-19 and has the antibodies needed to fight it off.
Types of Diagnostic Tests
When it comes to diagnostic tests for COVID-19, there are two main categories: antigen tests (used for rapid testing) and molecular/PCR tests.
Antigen tests have been largely used in rapid testing. They are performed with a nasal or throat swab to detect a protein found in the coronavirus. Antigen tests, which are cheaper and quicker, are often used to identify someone who is at or near peak infection. Unfortunately, antigen tests are considered less accurate than the longer, PCR diagnostic tests. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised those who show COVID-19 symptoms but test negative with a rapid antigen test to get a PCR test to confirm the results.
PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. PCR is the backbone of COVID-19 testing. Molecular tests are designed to be highly sensitive and can detect genetic material (he RNA) of the coronavirus at very small levels. PCR tests are also performed with a nasal or throat swab, but they take longer to show results.
Schedule Your COVID-19 Test Today
Showing symptoms of coronavirus? Need a negative test to attend an event? We can advise you on which COVID-19 test is best for you. At Clear Immediate Care, we proudly offer both Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Testing as well as PCR Based COVID-19 Testing at our Chicago clinic. Call now to schedule your testing appointment.