Covid-19 Test Types

Covid-19 Test Types

Covid-19 testing has come a long way since the introduction of the Coronavirus. Experts are now able to understand the virus enough to identify its presence with a simple test. However, because of the different types of testing options available for people, many questions have arisen about the accuracy of covid-19 testing and when it is necessary to get a test done. Though there is a shallow risk of getting tested for covid-19, it is essential to remember that testing too soon may lead to a negative test result because there is not enough of the virus in your body to be properly detected. Therefore, you should always make sure that you know the most appropriate time to get tested for covid-19 to help protect yourself and the people closest to you. Experts offer these answers to frequently asked questions about covid-19 testing:

What Types of Tests Are Available for Covid-19?

Antibody tests and diagnostic tests are the two types of covid-19 test categories.

Antibody testing.

 A covid-19 antibody test is a blood test that finds covid-19 antibodies in your bloodstream. Having a positive antibody test means that you have had covid-19 sometime in the past, whether you recognized it or not, and your immune system has created antibodies to help fight the virus off. However, an antibody test is not recommended to make a covid-19 diagnosis because it cannot tell you if the Coronavirus is still active in your body.

Diagnostic testing.

Antigen and molecular testing are two specific diagnostic tests used to diagnose covid-19 officially.

  • Antigen testing (rapid testing)- Rapid testing requires a swabbing of mucus from the very back of your throat or deep in your nose but does not require laboratory equipment or lab services for a result. This makes for getting test results for covid-19 back much sooner. Most drive-through testing sites for covid-19 use rapid tests for results. It can take time for covid-19 antigens to appear in your system, though these tests are incredibly accurate for identifying covid-19 antigens. This means you may get a negative test result from a rapid antigen test and still be infected with the virus.
  • Molecular testing (PCR or RNA)- These tests also involve swabbing mucus from the back of your throat or deep within your nose. Once the swab is taken, it is delivered to a lab to be examined for unique genetic material present in the Coronavirus. Molecular testing is the most accurate way to test for the Coronavirus. However, it can take much longer to get test results back because this type of test must be evaluated in a laboratory.

It is essential to know the limitations of Rapid testing. For example, if you have been exposed to a person who tested positive for covid-19 and you get a rapid test a few days later, it could come back negative because covid-19 antigens have not developed in your body yet. You may develop the symptoms of covid-19 and test positive a few days later once the antigens have time to develop. Rapid testing or antigen testing risks you potentially exposing others to the Coronavirus because your test results appeared negative, but your body just hadn't developed antigens yet.