Covid-19 Test Accuracy,  PCR and Antigen Covid Tests

Covid-19 Test Accuracy, PCR and Antigen Covid Tests

Apr 6th 2022

Covid19 Test Accuracy 

At this point in the pandemic, most people have been tested for Covid at least once. With home kits available, people are able to monitor their own health, whether checking for a positive response or tracking a previous positive result. Home kits or antigen tests are fine for certain things, but they don’t always give the most accurate reading. Even antigen tests performed at the lab may not give accurate information for newly contracted Covid.

PCR and Antigen Covid Tests 

The two main types of tests for Covid are the antigen test and the PCR test. Both are used the same way, but the results vary. The PCR tests take longer to get the results, which makes them the more accurate of the two. Both require a swabbed sample from the person being tested. This is taken from the back of the nose or throat. Both of these tests detect a different part of the virus. How it works influences the test’s speed and relative accuracy.

PCR Tests 

PCR testing is extremely accurate. It requires trained professionals and special equipment to get the results. The results of the test can take several hours, if not days. Once the lab has a sample, they use their specialized equipment to amplify it to find even the smallest trace of the gene that causes Covid. This means that even the slightest amount of coronavirus will be detected. The solutions used to find the results don’t change anything about your sample, they only detect the presence of the virus. This is the most accurate way to find the results you need. The PCR tests are far more accurate and reliable. They eliminate anything else that may be in your sample to interfere with the results. It often takes longer to get the results, but the test will find even the slightest trace of the virus. These tests take longer to get the results and they need to be done by a healthcare professional and with special equipment. These are the preferred methods, but they do not provide rapid results.

Antigen Tests 

The antigen test, often referred to as a rapid test, is used the same way. It doesn’t perform the same way, however. The antigen test checks for proteins that are found on the outside of the virus. This type of test mimics what antibodies do. Antibodies attach to the antigen protein and fight the virus. If there are any COVID-19 antigens in your system, the molecules in the liquid will attach to those antigens, and a line will appear on a test strip. The line means you’re positive for COVID-19. If there are no antigens detected in your system, the liquid doesn’t respond and no line will appear, often meaning you are negative for the virus. Its benefit is that you get results pretty quickly, often in minutes. You can do these tests yourself, just to check if you are planning on attending an event. It can help stop the spread of Covid if you know you are positive. But, there is more room for error when performing these tests, in particular, if you are doing them yourself. It can give you a false positive, and it only shows if you have the virus in your body or not.

Which Test is Best? 

Ideally, you will want the PCR test, as it gives more accurate results. It will depend on what you need it for. The antigen test is great when you need fast results. Perhaps you have been feeling ill and are wondering if you have been in contact with the Covid virus. The rapid test will tell you right away whether you have been infected. If you are not having symptoms and just want to check before attending an event, then you will likely be better off having the PCR test. This test is more accurate and gives more details. If you are not having any symptoms, you may still have the virus, even in the very early stages. The antigen will not be able to detect that. It would be in your best intestines to have the PCR test. Give yourself plenty of time. It takes longer but that is because it provides far more details than the rapid test. It’s better to know if you have been in contact with the virus, as you could spread it to many more people without even knowing. Obviously, if you want your results very quickly, then use the antigen test. If you have already had Covid and are monitoring your progression, the antigen test is a good way to start. But you should get the PCR test for the most accurate results. If you think you have been in contact with the virus, test yourself first, if you like, but visit a healthcare professional to get the PCR test completed.

Covid 19 Testing 

PCR and antigen tests are the most common, but they don’t work the same. Rapid tests are fine for fast results but they have a higher chance of error. The person administering the test is important. If you follow the instructions carefully, it should be fine, but there is a lot that can go wrong. Unfortunately, a negative result can encourage people to take bigger risks than they perhaps should. Even if you are not having symptoms, it’s recommended that you get a PCR test to get the true results you need. It’s important, in particular for those who are exposed to vulnerable people. If you have been off work, are planning to travel, or are experiencing symptoms, then visit your healthcare provider or a clinic or lab for a PCR test. It’s very important that you have accurate results. People are still getting infected, getting sick, and dying from Covid. Both tests are helpful for detecting the virus, so if you have a choice, get the PCR test. If you don’t have an option, it’s still very important that you get tested.