Understanding the Different Types of COVID-19 Tests

Understanding the Different Types of COVID-19 Tests

COVID-19, an infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can spread between asymptomatic carriers. You could have a mild case of COVID-19 and never know it. Or, it could be unclear whether your symptoms like sore throat, coughing, body aches, or fever are due to COVID-19 or another disease like the flu.

With COVID-19 testing, you can learn more about your infection status for COVID-19. When you have more information on your condition, you can make better decisions about treatment options and, if necessary, self-isolate to avoid infecting others.

The team at GatherWell Rapid COVID Testing of Ham Lake, Edina, Oakdale, and Elk River, Minnesota provides multiple types of testing to detect current or past cases of COVID-19, including PCR testing, antigen testing, and antibody testing.

PCR testing

The gold standard for accurately detecting COVID-19 infections, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is also known as molecular testing. PCR testing is the most accurate and reliable method to detect active COVID-19 infection.

In this type of COVID-19 test, our laboratory checks your respiratory sample, typically gathered with a nasal swab, for genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 viruses. PCR testing can pick up small fragments and traces of this virus to see if you have or have had COVID-19.

PCR testing has a low rate of false-negative results, but can return false-positive results after a recent illness when you may no longer be infectious. If your PCR test comes back positive, you most likely have COVID-19, and should seek treatment as needed and self-isolate to protect others. You may still get positive PCR results as your illness clears up.

Antigen testing

Antigen rapid testing looks at a respiratory sample for signs of COVID-19 virus proteins. Nasal swabs are the most typical type of sample used for antigen testing. Your results are usually available within just 15-30 minutes.

Antigen testing has low risks of false-positive results, but can return a false-negative result, for example if you’ve recently become infected and your respiratory system doesn’t yet show signs of telltale spike proteins.

That means that a positive result with an antigen test means that you probably do have COVID-19. A negative result indicates that COVID-19 proteins didn’t show up in your sample, so you probably don’t have COVID-19 — but it’s not a sure thing. If you need to be sure, testing repeatedly for a few days can help reduce the risks of false negatives.

Antibody testing

If you think you could have had a case of COVID-19 in the past, but weren’t able to get tested, you might be curious about your prior infection status. Antibody testing can tell us if you’ve had COVID-19, detecting the antibodies that your immune system produces in response to an infection.

You may have some immunity to COVID-19 after a past infection, but vaccination with one of the multiple safe and effective vaccines approved by the United States FDA gives you better protection against future COVID-19 infection. Talk to your doctor for personal recommendations.

Getting tested for COVID-19

Seek antigen or PCR testing from GatherWell Rapid COVID Testing if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you have suspicious symptoms common to this disease. Testing is a great way to guide your actions and reduce community spread to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schedule your appointment over the phone or book with our online tool.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Can Cotton Masks Block Out the COVID Virus?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) can protect you against the virus that causes COVID-19. But what’s the difference between cloth, surgical, and N-95 masks, and which option should you choose?

How Does SARS-CoV-2 Spread?

We’ve learned a lot about how the virus SARS-CoV-2, the germ that causes COVID-19, spreads from person to person. Keep reading to better understand how to keep yourself and your community safe from SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

Natural Antibodies Vs. Vaccine: Which Is More Effective?

Get the facts straight about COVID-19 immunity. Post-infection antibodies grant you some immunity from reinfection, and getting vaccinated against COVID-19 substantially decreases your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Read to learn more.

What to Expect From Your COVID-19 Antibody Test

With COVID-19, more information gives you better options. If you think you may have had COVID-19 in the past and would like more information, antibody testing can give it to you. Read on to learn more about what to expect from antibody testing.

How Is COVID-19 Different From the Flu?

COVID-19 and the flu share some symptoms, and both illnesses can become serious for some people. However, COVID-19 and the flu differ in some important ways, as well. Read on to learn more.

5 Common Signs of COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to be a concern heading into the winter of 2021 and the new year of 2022. Watch out for these common symptoms of COVID-19, and get tested right away if you see any danger signs that could indicate possible COVID.