Raise your hand if you don’t want to wait days for a PCR test result.
If you're like most people, we just want to know our results and get on with our lives. This is why rapid testing is much more appealing than standard PCR tests. But, does the type of rapid COVID-19 test matter? Which one is the right one to get and when is the right time to get it is the real question.
They all may produce rapid results, but the method of rapid COVID-19 testing or the type of test has its differences. If you’re confused about which one to get, then you’re in the same boat as many other people right after the holidays. After all, you may need to show “proof of test” when returning to work, to school or to travel. At the same time, not all rapid tests are widely accepted.
AFC Urgent Care Malden can help answer which rapid COVID-19 test is the one for you, and what your results mean.
The Different Types Of Rapid COVID-19 tests
If you’ve heard of the PCR test, that is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing worldwide. It’s widely accepted because it uses a molecular testing method to test the genetic material of the COVID-19 virus and its variants. It is highly specific and sensitive The only drawback is that PCR tests do take a few days to get results.
In 2021, rapid testing became an option, as its benefit of “results in minutes” or “on the same day” was a big one. BUT, not all rapid tests are the same. Fortunately, the PCR test has come out with a rapid version, making it the best of both worlds for being the most accurate and fastest test you can get on the market.
But, when it comes to “rapid testing”, people think they’re all the same thing.
There is in fact another type of rapid testing called the Antigen test that can cause confusion as to what the differences are. Unlike the gold standard PCR or the rapid molecular tests which test the genetic material of the virus, the Antigen test examines the live protein of the virus. Antigen tests have become very popular over the 2021 christmas break, especially the at-home rapid antigen tests.
But, are they as specific and sensitive as the rapid molecular tests?
The Drawbacks Of At-home Rapid Testing And Antigen Testing
Rapid Antigen tests are notorious for the high number of false negative results because they need a large viral amount of the COVID-19 virus in order to detect or show “positive”. If the test is not conducted properly, or there is not enough of the virus in your sample, it can show a false negative result. At the same time, if you’re not displaying symptoms (asymptomatic), or are in the later stages of your COVID-19 infection, it can also produce a negative test result. Don’t always assume that one Antigen test will be enough to prove you’re negative and out of the woods.
Antigen tests are only good as a last resort if you’re symptomatic or know that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 in the early stages of infection. This is hard to time, making it a major drawback of this test.
If you’re unsure of your Antigen test result, we highly suggest you follow up with a PCR test or Rapid PCR test. PCR and Rapid Molecular tests are the gold standard for a reason as they are the most reliable and accurate testing methods and have the advantage of being accepted as a “proof of test” for travel, going back to work, to school and for travel etc.
AFC Urgent Care in Malden Offers Rapid Molecular Tests
As we start the new year, we highly suggest that everyone gets vaccinated for COVID-19. After all, vaccines are keeping everyone with less severe symptoms out of the hospitals, as opposed to those who are unvaccinated. Getting tested is the next best thing to do continuously as we get back into our post holiday routines.
The CDC guidelines have recently been updated to shorten the quarantine and isolation time for people who test positive in the U.S. Isolation time has been reduced from 10 days to 5 days. It is required to wear a mask for another 5 days as an extra precaution. For more information and guidance,click here.
If you need rapid PCR testing AFC Urgent Care in Malden offers it 7 days a week. Results are on the same day usually within 20-30 minutes. Make sure to stick around so that we can hand you your results.
**Due to an unusually high demand for testing, in order to better serve our patients we have temporarily implemented a ticketing system to schedule for urgent care visits and covid-19 testing throughout the day. Tickets are distributed at the start of each day (approximately 8am) until all appointments have been exhausted for that day. Each ticket will provide information on what time to return back to the center for your appointment.