COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What’s a PCR test?

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is carried out to detect genetic materials from a particular organism, corresponding to a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus in case you are contaminated at the time of the test. The test may also detect fragments of virus even after you’re not infected.

What is a COVID-19 PCR test?

A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to diagnosis people who are at present contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is the “gold normal” test for diagnosing COVID-19 because it’s essentially the most accurate and reliable test.

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

Get tested:

When you’ve got symptoms of COVID-19.

When you have been within six feet of someone for quarter-hour or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t offer testing in case you’ve been exposed however don’t have symptoms.)


How does a COVID-19 PCR test work?

There are three key steps to the COVID-19 PCR test: 1) sample collection, 2) extraction, and 3) PCR.

Sample collection is finished utilizing a swab to gather respiratory materials found in your nose. A swab incorporates a soft tip on a protracted, flexible stick that’s inserted into your nose. There are totally different types of nose swabs including nasal swabs that acquire a sample instantly inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is adequate for collecting materials for the COVID-19 PCR test. After collection, the swab is sealed in a tube and then sent to a laboratory.

When a laboratory technologist receives the pattern, they perform a process called extraction, which isolates genetic material from the sample together with genetic material from any virus which may be present.

The PCR step then makes use of particular chemical compounds and a PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, which cause a response to occur that makes millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. Throughout this process, one of many chemicals produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is current within the sample. This fluorescent light is a “signal” that’s detected by the PCR machine and special software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result.


What do COVID-19 PCR test outcomes mean?

A positive test end result means that it could be very likely that you’ve got COVID-19. Most people have gentle illness and may recover safely at residence without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your signs worsen or if you have questions or concerns.

A negative test outcome means you probably did not have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. Nonetheless, it is possible to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 but not have sufficient virus in your body to be detected by the test. For instance, this might happen should you recently turned infected however you don’t have signs, but; or it might occur when you’ve had COVID-19 for more than a week before being tested. Keep in mind that a negative test doesn’t imply you’re safe for any length of time. You could be uncovered to COVID-19 after your test, get contaminated and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

If your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, keep home and separate your self from others. In case your test is negative, proceed to take steps to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19. Read more about what to do in the event you test positive and ways to forestall getting contaminated with COVID-19.

How quickly are results of a COVID-19 PCR test available?

You need to receive the results of your test as early as 24 hours after sample collection, but sometime it can take a couple of days relying on long it takes the pattern to achieve the laboratory and what number of other samples are in the queue to be tested.

What are the advantages of a COVID-19 PCR test?

The primary advantages of COVID-19 PCR test are its accuracy and reliability. It’s the most accurate test available for COVID-19 detection.

Are there downsides to a COVID-19 PCR test?

Because the test is able to detect very small quantities of virus materials, it can continue to detect fragments of SARS-CoV-2 virus even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are not contagious. So it’s possible you’ll proceed to test positive when you have had COVID-19 in the distant previous, though you may’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.


How does the COVID-19 PCR test evaluate with different available COVID-19 tests?

Basically, there are types of tests, diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests let you know you probably have an active (current) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests inform you that you already had COVID-19.

Diagnostic tests:

PCR test: This tests for the presence of the particular virus’s genetic materials or its fragments as it breaks down. This is the most reliable and accurate test for detecting active infection.

Antigen test: This test detects bits of proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens. Antigen tests are typically considered fast, taking only 15 to half-hour however are less accurate than a PCR test. Rapid antigen tests are most accurate when used within a couple of days of the start of your symptoms, which is when the most important amount of virus is current in your body. Because this test is not as accurate as a PCR test, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider could order a PCR test to confirm the negative test result.

Antibody test:

Antibody (serology) test: This tests detects when you’ve had an immune response (antibodies) to the virus. This implies that you’ve had the virus and your body (immune system, specifically antibodies) has mounted an attack to combat it. The test is detecting those antibodies. It typically takes a few week after being infected for sufficient antibodies to develop to be detected in your blood. For this reason, this test shouldn’t be used to diagnose an active infection.

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