If you’ve been feeling under the weather or you were recently in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you’re probably looking into your COVID-19 testing options. Terms like PCR, rapid testing, and antibody testing could sometimes be quite confusing and hard to make sense of what they mean, and which one is right for you.
Rapid Antigen Tests
A rapid antigen test can be administered for individuals with or without COVID-19 symptoms. This test involves collecting nose and throat secretions via nasopharyngeal swab and then examining them for protein fragments specific to the COVID-19 virus. While these tests provide quick results—within 30 minutes.
PCR tests are similar to rapid tests in that they can be administered to those with or without symptoms and are conducted with a nasopharyngeal swab. But PCR tests are considered the gold standard when it comes to COVID-19 testing as these tests provide more accurate results than rapid tests, because they use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify the viral genetic material of COVID-19. This genetic material can be detected while a person is actively infected and after the acute illness. The downside to PCR tests is that results are not as quick as rapid tests. The general timeline on test turnaround is within 24 – 48 hours time frame.