Which COVID Test to Get? The Differences Between Rapid Molecular Tests And Rapid Antigen Tests

January 7, 2022

The Differences Between Rapid PCR Tests And Rapid Antigen Tests By AFC Urgent Care New Bedford

Did you refrain from ringing in the new year with friends and family….again?  As we are seeing, there has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases thanks to the Omicron variant over the past two months. If you attended multiple gatherings in the past two weeks, chances are you might have been exposed. 

With so many testing options out there, it’s hard to tell the differences between them. We all have heard of a “Rapid COVID-19 test”, but which COVID test to get? Which one is considered a “proof of test”? A Rapid Molecular test or a Rapid Antigen test? 

AFC Urgent Care New Bedford can help answer these questions with our guide on COVID-19 Rapid tests and which one you should get.

Are Rapid COVID-19 Tests The Same As The PCR Test?

Aren’t they all the same thing? Nope. The truth is they’re all different and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive into them.

PCR- or polymerase chain reaction tests,  are considered the “gold standard” of all COVID-19 testing. It is one of the most common tests used every day around the world and is widely accepted as a “proof of test”. It’s performed via nasal swab and often sent to a lab for testing against COVID-19 variants like the Omicron, Delta, etc.

“PCR testing” is a type of molecular test that is more specific and sensitive when determining if someone is positive or not. This type of test converts any virus RNA into DNA while amplifying it into millions of copies so that it can easily identify if there is an infection or not.

The only drawback of this test is that a PCR test may take up to 48 to 72 hours for results to come in, making it harder for everyone to live their day to day lives. This is why rapid testing was created: for the appeal of faster results on the same day or “within minutes”. 

Thankfully, there is a rapid version of the PCR test,  making it the fastest and most accurate test on the market. But, with other testing options in the mix, not ALL Rapid tests are created equal.

Which COVID Test to get? Make Sure You Know What Type Of Rapid Test You’re Getting

Literally…Make sure you know what type of rapid COVID-19 test you’re getting. If it’s a rapid Molecular test, then you’re in luck because that’s considered a “proof of test” due to its accuracy and reliability. Rapid Molecular tests usually have a turn around of a few hours, max, making it easy for you to live life uninterrupted.

At AFC Urgent Care New Bedford, Rapid Molecular testing results are within 20 minutes on the same day.

Now, If you’re looking for a quick result “in minutes”, the Rapid Antigen test is another option that you can find in Massachusetts at a local pharmacy, online,  or even at some health clinics. Although we don’t offer this option because of sensitivity issues and false negatives, many people turn to this option because it’s cheaper, quicker and can also be done “at-home''. 

We mentioned that Antigen testing can result in false negatives. Even the at-home antigen tests could produce a false negative if not performed correctly. Antigen testing only tests against the proteins found in a viral sample. The reason for false negatives is that there could be a low viral load, or a poor test collection,  making it harder to detect if someone is positive or not. Rapid Antigen testing should only be considered when performed in a series of multiple tests in a span of a few days to ensure a negative or positive test. Just so you know, Rapid Antigen or “at-home” tests are not widely accepted as a proof of test by many employers, so you may have to get a PCR or Rapid Molecular test as a follow up.

We highly suggest you plan accordingly as we anticipate an increase in COVID-19 cases after the holidays. 


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.

Get A Reliable Rapid PCR COVID-19 Test At AFC Urgent Care New Bedford

Know your results from a brand you can trust. We keep our facility clean, and our staff is fully equipped with PPE to help treat you for your urgent care medical needs. If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, our centers are open seven days a week for your testing needs. 

Rapid Molecular testing for walk-ins with same day results, usually within 20 minutes. 

**Due to unusually high demand, 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. ***Plan ahead as wait times for testing may be longer than usual.


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