COVID-19 testing is one of the best way to detect the presence of the virus in the body. There are more options for testing Covid-19 now than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many Covid-19 testing options out there, navigating the right options can be confusing. However, selecting the right test for your unique situation is essential for accurate diagnosis and implementing appropriate public health measures.
Let’s explore the different types of COVID-19 tests and some tips for choosing the right test for your unique situation.
COVID-19 Testing Options
The following are the most common types of tests that are used to detect COVID-19 infection.
PCR, or polymerase chain reaction test, is the gold standard for detecting COVID-19. It is a type of nucleic acid amplification test that creates multiple copies of the genetic material of a virus from a small sample through a process known as amplification. The amplification process makes it possible to detect even the smallest amount of virus in the body easily.
A PCR test is a highly reliable test that can also differentiate between different variants of the virus. It can even detect viruses in people not showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. However, receiving PCR test results may take up to three days when samples are sent to a lab.
An antigen or rapid antigen test detects the pieces of viral proteins from the virus that cause infection. The test is called rapid because it can produce results quickly, in minutes. Unfortunately, antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR-based tests. These tests can detect the virus in about 80% of the people with coronavirus symptoms and less than half of the asymptomatic people.
This test looks for antibodies against the virus in human blood. Antibodies are the proteins our immune system produces when fighting off foreign infections such as Covid-19 infection.
An antibody test cannot diagnose an active infection; however, it can determine if you have had a virus in your body in the past.
Tips For Choosing the Right COVID-19 Test for You
One best way to choose the right COVID-19 test for you is to talk to your doctor, as they can help you decide which test is right for you based on your unique situation, symptoms, risk factors, and needs.
Here are some factors you should consider when choosing a COVID-19 testing option.
PCR tests are the most common and accurate tests, producing 100% accurate results, followed by antigen tests which produce 80% accurate results.
Antibodies tests are not as accurate as PCR tests and antigen tests and cannot detect an active infection in the body.
If you are looking for COVID-19 test results within minutes, it is recommended to go for antigen tests as they can produce results quickly, often within a few minutes. On the other hand, if you can wait for a few days, a PCR test may be your option.
Antigen tests are widely available as at-home testing kits, which means these tests can be done at home. On the other hand, for a PCR test, you may have to visit your nearby hospital, urgent care clinic, community testing site, or doctor’s office.
Your Individual Needs
When choosing a COVID-19 test type, it is important to consider your needs. For example, if you want to know if you have been infected with COVID-19 in the past, you can get an antibody test. If you need to get tested quickly, you may want to go for an antigen test that can be performed at home. If you have symptoms similar to COVID-19, you may need a PCR test to diagnose your condition accurately.
COVID Testing in Fort Worth, TX
At Texas Medical Institute, we have a team of highly trained and compassionate providers who offer a comprehensive range of services for people of all ages for their healthcare needs. We offer drive-up COVID-19 testing services and telemedicine services to ensure the health, safety, and peace of mind of all our patients in and around Fort Worth, TX.