What’s The Deal With All The Rapid COVID-19 Tests?! Aren’t They All The Same Thing?

January 7, 2022

What’s The Deal With All The Rapid COVID-19 Tests?! Aren’t They All The Same Thing? AFC Urgent Care Natick Explains The Different Types Of COVID-19 Tests

Have you ever been told to get a certain type of COVID-19 test over another, but never knew why? We’ve all been there. But, no one ever explains the differences between the tests,  making COVID-19 testing pretty confusing. 

What’s the deal with all the Rapid COVID-19 tests?! Aren’t they all the same thing? The type of COVID-19 test you take actually matters because you don’t want to get a false negative result, or choose a test that’s not accepted as a “proof of test” to return to work, school, or in order to travel. 

We know it’s confusing, but AFC Urgent Care Natick is here to help break down the differences of your Rapid COVID-19 test options.

The Different Types Of COVID-19 Testing Options

A “proof of test” is something we hear all the time. But, which one is the right test? 

PCR tests are considered the true “proof of test” because they’re the gold standard of all COVID-19 testing options. They’re the most reliable and accurate because of the testing method used when detecting COVID-19 in your viral sample. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, which uses a molecular testing method that converts the RNA of the virus into DNA. It makes millions of copies so that it can test against the genetic material of the virus to determine if you’re positive or not. The only drawback is that it can take up to 2-3 days to get results.This is why many people turn towards the Rapid COVID-19 testing options- because they just don’t want to wait for their results. But, not all rapid tests are the same.

Fortunately, there is a Rapid Molecular test that is a faster version of the PCR test,  making it the most accurate and quick test you can take. However, there are other Rapid tests like the Antigen test and the at-home Antigen test.  They promise “quick results” too. 

At-home Antigen tests and regular rapid Antigen tests offered at pharmacies and online were popular over the winter holidays, but these rapid testing options have their drawbacks. Instead of looking at the genetic material that molecular PCR tests or Rapid Molecular tests do, Antigen tests detect specific proteins of the live virus. They’re not meant for one time use. Antigen testing should be done in a series of tests over a span of a few days. The trade off in speed is that these tests are not as accurate or reliable as PCR tests. We realize that they are attractive.  They say “results in minutes” and are readily available at a cheaper cost in pharmacies and clinics. Convenience is attractive!

The Problem With Rapid Antigen Tests Versus Rapid Molecular Tests

The main problem with Rapid Antigen COVID tests is that they’re not widely accepted as a “proof of test” when traveling, going to work, or determining if you are sick or not. You could be asymptomatic or symptomatic, but once past the early stages of infection, the Antigen test could produce a false negative result because you have a low viral amount in your specimen collection.

Don’t always assume when using an Antigen test that one test is all you need. You may have to follow up with a PCR test or a rapid Molecular test making it more of a hassle for you to get a second test. 

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for accuracy and reliability,  a PCR test and/or a rapid PCR test is the way to go.

Rapid PCR Testing Is Offered At AFC Urgent Care Natick

Luckily for you, AFC Urgent Care Natick offers Rapid Molecular testing 7 days a week. Not only do you get the most accurate results, but you also get them on the same day making it easier for you to have peace of mind and go back to your normal routine. Make sure you stick around as results do come quick in 20 minutes. We’ll hand you your results giving you the proof you need to live life uninterrupted.


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.

AFC in Natick, Massachusetts is your go to urgent care center for your urgent care needs. We also offer flu shots for the twindemic (Yes, The Flu is pretty common right now!), X-rays, physicals for work, school and a whole lot more. 

**Due to 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. 

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