Becoming Familiar with COVID-19 Testing
Be familiar with how the various tests compare.
Viral tests use a respiratory sample, such as a nasal or throat swab, to help identify ACTIVE infection with COVID-19. There are currently two types...molecular tests and antigen tests.
Molecular or PCR, tests look for genetic material from COVID-19...and the tests authorized for use by FDA are typically highly accurate.
Antigen tests detect bits of proteins from the virus...and are fast and inexpensive. Positive results are generally accurate. But a symptomatic patient with negative results may need to be retested with a molecular test.
For example, false negatives may occur due to testing too early in the illness, improper test handling, or a poor sample. Nasal or throat samples require a deep swab...which can be hard to get.
Antibody tests use a fingerstick or blood sample from a vein to help identify a RECENT or PRIOR infection. A negative test means a patient has probably NOT had COVID-19. But a positive test doesn't mean the patient's immune...or even that they've had COVID-19, due to false positives.
Sharing Some COVID-19 Testing facts...