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COVID-19 Testing: What are the Different Types of Tests Available?

Apr 19, 2021

COVID-19 Testing: What are the Different Types of Tests Available?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic arose and changed the world overnight. Still, this far into a pandemic response, confusion still abounds about COVID-19 testing types and where to get tested. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you need to get tested to stop the spread of the virus. The two most widespread tests are rapid antigen tests and PCR tests, but which is the right one for you? You need to know the facts about what each test actually is and the differences between the two.

PCR test

A PCR test, or CDC 2019-nCoV RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, is the main test utilized for COVID-19 detection. This test uses a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction to screen for genetic material exclusive to the COVID-19 virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even before symptoms develop.

A PCR test offers a reasonable turnaround time, with labs being able to typically process results in 2-3 days, though high demand may sometimes create longer wait times. This test is usually administered through nasal swab, but can also be offered occasionally as a throat swab or salivary test.

Antigen test

The antigen test, otherwise referred to as a rapid test, though the CDC edited guidance to delete the word “rapid” from the official nomenclature in December 2020, these detect the presence of antigens for COVID-19 produced by a patient’s immune system to fight the virus. These tests are often administered by nasal swabs, just like the PCR test.

Antigen tests are referred to as “rapid” for a reason. Results can be returned in as quickly as 15 minutes, which can make a huge difference in terms of informing those you may have exposed while infected. Antigen tests are not as sensitive at detecting COVID-19 as PCR tests, though they also have the added benefit of checking if someone is still carrying antigens after a COVID-19 recovery.

Schedule a Test

At Midwest Express Clinic, we are ready to help if you think there’s a chance you may need a COVID-19 test. If you have concerns about a possible exposure or any symptoms you are experiencing, please do not hesitate to call your nearest location. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires that we all make an effort to be responsible for our health and seek care when we need it. Come visit us today or contact us and schedule a test. Don’t live with the uncertainty about a possible dangerous infection that could harm people in your life. Let us help you get answers and the care you need.

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