People often talk about COVID-19 testing as though there is only one choice. In reality, there are more than one type of test with many differences when determining if you’re positive for COVID-19 or not. Some of you might be questioning which tests are more accurate or reliable.
Which one is more accurate, a rapid COVID-19 test or a PCR Test?
AFC Urgent Care Vernon is here to break down some of the common COVID-19 questions on tests on the market and what we offer here at AFC Urgent Care.
Which is Right for You? Rapid Testing or PCR testing?
First, you have to understand the different types of testing options. They are:
- PCR tests
- Rapid Molecular tests
- Rapid antigen tests that are offered in-clinics or pharmacies.
- New at-home Rapid antigen test kits
PCR COVID-19 testing is a type of molecular test and is considered the ‘gold standard’ of testing around the world. It is widely accepted for travel, going back to work, or attending any event because of its accuracy and reliability when detecting COVID-19. The name ‘PCR’ stands for polymerase chain reaction, which can convert the RNA of a virus into DNA. This type of molecular test has the ability to make copies of this DNA for more accurate testing. Even if you have a small amount of the virus in your test sample, a PCR test can detect it. This makes it easier to know if you’ve been exposed days ago or the day of testing.
The only drawback of a PCR test is that because it is sent to a lab, results can take a few days, making it harder for you to plan your week.
This is why rapid testing was created to help streamline the process and give results in real time. But, there are some differences you should be aware about when choosing a “rapid” test. For starters, Rapid Molecular testing is a faster version of the PCR test that gives you the results on the same day. It uses the same method of molecular testing as a standard PCR test. There is no need to wait days for results with this testing option.
But, What About The Antigen Tests? Are They Any Good?
Don’t confuse an Antigen rapid test for the Rapid Molecular test. If you see it offered at a clinic, pharmacy, or for “at-home” use, make sure you take more than one test. The rapid antigen test is notorious for offering “results in minutes”, but the trade-off for speed is accuracy. They are not as reliable or accurate as PCR testing.
Rapid antigen testing only tests for the live protein of the virus. It’s not able to use the RNA and convert it to DNA for multiple tests. Antigen testing will only work if you are exhibiting symptoms right then and there or if you have a known exposure in the early stages. The downside of this testing option is that it can produce false negatives. Why? Because if you’re asymptomatic, not exhibiting symptoms anymore, or are past the early stage, the test may not be able to detect even small amounts of the virus in your test sample.
It is important when choosing this test that you do it in a series of multiple tests over a span of a few days. At the same time, this test is not widely accepted as a “proof of test” to return to work, school or to travel. We highly suggest getting a PCR test for more accuracy and reliability.
AFC Urgent Care Vernon Offers Both Rapid Molecular tests and Standard PCR Testing Options
If you spent the holidays traveling or going to multiple gatherings, chances are you may have been exposed. We have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state of Connecticut and there is an increase in demand for testing. We highly suggest getting vaccinated and not skipping your booster shots during this time. Right now, they’re helping to keep people who are displaying mild symptoms out of the hospitals, unlike those who are not vaccinated.
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.
We also highly suggest planning ahead when choosing a COVID-19 test after the holidays. All of our COVID-19 tests use the molecular testing method making them the most reliable and accurate tests on the market.
Rapid Molecular tests results are on the same day within 20 minutes. Make sure you stick around so we can give you your test results.
If you choose the standard PCR test that is sent out to a lab for testing, results will be available in 48-72 hours via our NEW patient portal. Instructions are easy to follow and are given via email.