COVID-19 swab test

Types of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing - What are the Differences?

Given how widespread the coronavirus outbreak has been, testing has been put in place to identify carriers and isolate them as a measure to curtail its spread. 

As the virus spreads, people are being tested to find out whether they have contracted it, particularly if they have come into contact with an infected person.

If you want to determine whether you have COVID-19 there are various tests you can take. If you are wondering what these tests are, read on to find out the steps involved and how the tests work.


1. Antibody Test

This test is basically for checking for past infection. It gives information on the prevalence of the virus in society. To determine this healthcare providers search for antibodies, which the body makes after infection. 

Antibodies are proteins the body makes to fight foreign body invasion. It does not become detectable until several days after infection. This test is not used to diagnose COVID-19. It can only tell whether the person tested had coronavirus two to three weeks before the testing.

An antibody test is done by collecting a blood sample from a vein in your arm through a blood draw or fingertip. The blood sample is tested in a laboratory to search for antibodies. 

The testing process can take a couple of days to accomplish. Presently, there is no testing kit to carry out antibody tests at home. One has to visit a healthcare professional to have an antibody test.


2. Antigen Test

Also known as a rapid test, the antigen test is popular and highly sought-after because of its quick turnaround. It is becoming widely available across the world. 

Antigen testing is used to screen a large number of people at airports, business organizations, etc. This test, instead of searching for the coronavirus itself, looks for the proteins situated on the surface of the virus.

They are faster (it takes about 15 minutes to perform and acquire results) and cheaper as they require less specialized laboratory equipment. 

It is recommended by medical experts as it eliminates the challenges associated with coronavirus testing. One requires a nose or throat swab to get this test done. With this test, there is no room for false-positive results where a test is likely to pick up proteins that are similar to those that live on the virus’s surface. 


3. PCR Test

The PCR testing forms the majority of coronavirus testing especially in the United States of America. The testing utilizes polymerase chain reaction technology to identify traces of genetic materials of the virus in samples collected. 

Samples are collected by performing nose and throat swabs. If you get a negative result but still display coronavirus symptoms, you should still self-isolate.

The PCR COVID-19 test is vulnerable to inaccurate results. If you get a false negative, it is because PCR technology tends to detect any genetic materials that closely resemble those of the coronavirus. 

False negatives are as common as false positives. Getting a false negative could be because health experts did not go deep enough into the nose or throat to collect enough.

Performing a PCR test is labour-intensive and requires specialized laboratory equipment. Depending on whether samples are analyzed on-site or sent to a laboratory the turnaround varies from minutes to days.


4. Saliva Test

A saliva test is a new form of PCR test to diagnose coronavirus. Just as coronavirus is known to be present in respiratory droplets, it is also present in saliva. It is detectable using the same kind of technology used in the PCR test.

It is labour-intensive and does not require specialized laboratory equipment, just the polymerase chain reaction test it depends on. However, the results from this test tend to be less accurate but the collection of saliva samples is less invasive than a nose or throat swab. It is easier to perform as it can be done by non-medical professionals at home.

Patients are required to allow saliva to pool at the bottom of their mouths for a few seconds before leaning forward and letting it drip into a small sterilized container. Spitting is discouraged as it can generate aerosols and increase the chance of infection.

The turnaround time depends on the clinical setting and the time taken to transport the saliva sample to a lab.


In a Nutshell

In a Nutshell

The information provided above is all you are required to know about the coronavirus testing types. The Wellness People offers:

  • COVID-19 PCR Swab Test
  • Abbott Antibody Blood Test
  • Nadal Antibody Finger Prick Rapid Test

For professional recommendation, please feel free to book an appointment with our specialist.


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