PCR or Antigen? What to look for in a COVID-19 test
When it comes time to take a COVID-19 test, it can be challenging to know which one is the right one for you. Some tests deliver results in a few moments, while others can take hours or days; some require a throat swab or a nasal swab; and some don’t actually test for active COVID-19 infection at all.
According to the FDA, the main differentiator between different types of tests is whether they are diagnostic or antibody. An antibody test only checks for the presence of antibodies produced in response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 illness, and isn’t used to diagnose an active infection.
For diagnostic tests, there are two major types: molecular tests and antigen tests. Molecular tests are also known as nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), RT-PCR tests, or LAMP tests. Antigen tests can also be called diagnostic tests, viral tests, or rapid tests.
About Antigen Tests
The majority of antigen tests are taken via nasal swab and deliver fast results. But an antigen test has a couple of major weaknesses: for one, it’s more likely than a molecular test to deliver a false positive result. If a positive result is shown from an antigen test, a molecular test may be required to confirm. Also, antigen tests can’t detect early COVID-19 infections before major symptoms are shown.
Molecular tests can be administered via nasal swab or saliva swab. Some molecular tests can take one to three days for results, but others, such as the Cue rapid tests provided by CTEH, can deliver results within 20 minutes of administering. All molecular tests diagnosing an active COVID-19 infection are highly accurate and can detect early COVID-19 infections.
In short, when a highly accurate test is required, molecular tests such as PCR tests are preferred. Do you need fast, accurate testing for your workforce? CTEH can help with our over-the-counter, self-use Cue rapid tests. Visit our website for more information. (Link)