COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What is a PCR test?

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic material from a selected organism, equivalent to a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you’re contaminated on the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of virus even after you might be now not infected.

What’s a COVID-19 PCR test?

A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to diagnosis people who find themselves at the moment infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is the “gold standard” test for diagnosing COVID-19 because it’s the most accurate and reliable test.

Who ought to get tested for COVID-19?

Get tested:

You probably have signs of COVID-19.

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

TEST DETAILS

How does a COVID-19 PCR test work?

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

Sample assortment is finished using a swab to collect respiratory materials present in your nose. A swab incorporates a soft tip on an extended, flexible stick that’s inserted into your nose. There are totally different types of nostril swabs including nasal swabs that gather a pattern instantly inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is ample for gathering material for the COVID-19 PCR test. After assortment, the swab is sealed in a tube after which despatched to a laboratory.

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

The PCR step then makes use of special 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 the chemical substances produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present within the sample. This fluorescent light is a “signal” that is detected by the PCR machine and particular software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result.

RESULTS AND FOLLOW-UP

What do COVID-19 PCR test results imply?

A positive test outcome means that it is very likely that you have COVID-19. Most people have mild sickness and may recover safely at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or when you’ve got questions or concerns.

A negative test outcome means you probably didn’t have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. However, it is feasible to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 but not have enough virus in your body to be detected by the test. For example, this may happen for those who lately became infected but you don’t have signs, yet; or it could occur in case you’ve had COVID-19 for more than a week before being tested. Keep in mind that a negative test doesn’t mean you might be safe for any size of time. You might be uncovered to COVID-19 after your test, get infected and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

If your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, stay dwelling and separate yourself from others. If your test is negative, proceed to take steps to protect your self and others from getting COVID-19. Read more about what to do if you happen to test positive and ways to prevent getting infected with COVID-19.

How soon are outcomes of a COVID-19 PCR test available?

You need to receive the outcomes of your test as early as 24 hours after pattern assortment, however someday it can take a number of days depending on long it takes the pattern to achieve the laboratory and how many different samples are within 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 is 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 amounts of virus material, it can continue to detect fragments of SARS-CoV-2 virus even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are no longer contagious. So chances are you’ll proceed to test positive in case you have had COVID-19 within the distant previous, although you may’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

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 inform you you probably have an active (present) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests let you know that you just already had COVID-19.

Diagnostic tests:

PCR test: This tests for the presence of the actual virus’s genetic material or its fragments as it breaks down. This is essentially 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 speedy, taking only 15 to 30 minutes but 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 quantity of virus is present 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 should 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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