Why Does The Type Of COVID-19 Test Matter? Rapid COVID Test Versus PCR COVID Test

January 7, 2022

Why Does The Type Of COVID-19 Test Matter? Rapid COVID Test Versus PCR COVID Test By AFC Urgent Care Torrington



 

Has anyone ever told you not to get a certain type of COVID-19 test over another? If yes, then you’re probably wondering why the type of COVID-19 test matters. Well to you, a COVID-19 test might mean one universal thing, but there are actually differences in reliability and accuracy as well as the method used to test for COVID-19.

As testing options increase, so do the questions about what each test does and how they can help residents in our community. AFC Urgent Care Torrington is here to help break down the facts on what exactly each test does, what they can and can’t tell you and how accurate they are. 

Rapid COVID Tests Versus PCR COVID Tests

“I thought they were the same thing, except one is faster, right?” Yes and no. 

If you’re referring to the Rapid Molecular and The PCR test, then yes. PCR tests usually have a turn around of 48-72 hours for a test result whereas the Rapid version of the PCR test can give results on the same day. Luckily for you, AFC Urgent Care Torrington offers both COVID-19 testing options, and a patient portal for you to check your results,  making it easier for you to get the results you need. 

But, what exactly is a PCR test? PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. This type of molecular test converts the RNA of the COVID-19 virus into DNA. It makes millions of copies,   making even the slightest bit of a viral sample detectable when using this method of testing. PCR testing is considered the gold standard of COVID-19 testing globally. It is highly accurate, reliable and widely accepted as a “proof of test”.

Now, the other “Rapid” test you might have heard of is the antigen test. This is actually a different type of COVID-19 test that you may have seen being offered at many clinics and pharmacies in the state of Connecticut. Antigen testing tests for the protein of the virus. It’s not generally as specific as RNA testing from a PCR test, so it can produce false negative results. The trade off for speed is less accuracy when detecting COVID-19. Antigen testing may give you results in “minutes'', but if you’re in the later stages of infection, it may not detect it. At the same time if you’re asymptomatic, you might go undetected with this type of test. 

Rapid Antigen testing is also sold as an at-home testing kit and was very popular throughout the winter holidays. Unfortunately, antigen testing should not be a replacement for a “proof of test” as it is often not widely accepted to travel, go back to work, or back to school. 

Which COVID-19 Test Should I Get And When?

Let’s face it; chances are, with the extreme contagion of the Omicron variant, you probably weren’t taking the extra COVID-19 safety precautions throughout the holidays and may have been exposed. At the same time, we’ve seen an uptick in cases over the past two months. It’s time to get tested. If you haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 or haven’t gotten your booster shot yet, then it’s time to get that too. Getting vaccinated is keeping people out of the hospitals with mild to no symptoms versus those who are unvaccinated. 

As far as testing goes, we highly suggest looking at the name of the test when finding a location. If you do get an antigen test to confirm the early stages of COVID-19 if you’re symptomatic, then follow up with a PCR or Rapid Molecular test for proof of test. 

AFC Urgent Care Torrington Is Here to Help Test You For COVID-19

AFC Urgent Care offers COVID-19 testing to help our friends and families in the Torrington community. COVID-19 testing options at AFC Urgent Care Torrington are:

Results for rapid testing are on the same day within 30 minutes. Make sure to stick around so we can hand you your results for rapid testing.

Our standard PCR testing is sent out for lab testing. We now have a patient portal giving you results within 48-72 hours via email. 

***NEW

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.

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