Since the coronavirus took a grip of the world, we had a steep learning curve with regards to testing for Covid-19. Rather than there being just one test that provides accurate results every time, there are several different tests available that don’t off the same level of accuracy. If you are feeling overwhelmed, therefore, we don’t blame you.
In the following post, though, we want to try to make it all a little easier to understand by looking at the main types of Covid-19 tests and how they work.
Diagnostic and Antibody Tests
Before we get into this further, it’s worth highlighting the fact that there are two different forms of Cvodi-19 testing – diagnostic and antibody. While diagnostic tests are those designed to identify active infection in your saliva or mucus, antibody tests are usually blood tests and they are designed to find proof that the infection has been in your body before, even if it isn’t at present.
Now let’s delve a little deeper.
Molecular Test (also known as the PCR Antigen Test or the PCR and Antigen Test)
Molecular tests like the PCR or RNA tests are considered to be the most accurate and sensitive when it comes to active coronavirus infection detection. These are normally requested if you or your doctor or another health professional thinks you have caught Covid-19. You may also be required to take a diagnostic test if you need to show evidence to a college or university or employer that you do not have the infection.
Whatever the reason, these tests usually involve a health care professional taking a swab of mucus from your throat or nose. There are many tests now that only need saliva, which is less uncomfortable. You will find that most molecular tests are called PCR Tests. PCR is an abbreviation of Polymerase Chain Reaction and refers to the detection technique used in the lab to find genetic material of the virus.
The test that relies on a nasopharyngeal swab, which is the one that goes right into the back of your throat or deep inside your nose, is considered the most effective.
Antigen Test (also known as the Rapid Test)
Another type of diagnostic test that is popular is Antigen or Rapid Test as it offers a quicker turnaround time for results than the above. It also costs considerably less to produce these tests. That is why these are used in places where large numbers of people are being screened.
In terms of how it works, there is not much difference between antigen tests and molecular tests, as a swab is taken from deep in your nose or the back of the throat. Rather than waiting days, however, you only need to wait about an hour or so for a result.
The downside to antigen tests is that they are not nearly as accurate.
Antibody Tests (also known as Blood Tests or Serology Tests
The Antibody Test, as the name suggests is designed to look for antibodies of the virus in the body. Antibodies are the proteins produced by your immune system to fight foreign invaders, like viruses. The issue with this test is that all it will tell you is whether you have had the infection in the past.
A blood sample is taken from your fingertip and normally it will take around 3 to 7 days to get a result.
A simple way to understand the different tests is that if you have symptoms and think you may be affected, you should have a PCR antigen test, whereas if you think you had it in the past and need to know for anecdotal reasons, you should have an Antibody test.