COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What is a PCR test?

A polymerase chain response (PCR) test is carried out to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you are contaminated at the time of the test. The test may additionally detect fragments of virus even after you’re now not infected.

What is a COVID-19 PCR test?

A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to prognosis people who find themselves presently infected 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 probably the most accurate and reliable test.

Who ought to get tested for COVID-19?

Get tested:

You probably have signs of COVID-19.

If you have been within six feet of somebody for quarter-hour or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t provide testing if you’ve been exposed but 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) sample assortment, 2) extraction, and three) PCR.

Sample collection is completed utilizing a swab to collect respiratory material found in your nose. A swab contains a soft tip on a protracted, flexible stick that is inserted into your nose. There are completely different types of nose swabs together with nasal swabs that accumulate a sample immediately inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is ample for accumulating material for the COVID-19 PCR test. After collection, the swab is sealed in a tube after which sent to a laboratory.

When a laboratory technologist receives the pattern, they carry out a process called extraction, which isolates genetic material from the pattern together with genetic material from any virus that could be present.

The PCR step then makes use of particular chemical compounds and a PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, which cause a reaction to happen that makes thousands and thousands of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. Throughout this process, one of many chemical substances produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present 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.

RESULTS AND FOLLOW-UP

What do COVID-19 PCR test outcomes mean?

A positive test outcome implies that it may be very likely that you’ve got COVID-19. Most people have gentle sickness and may recover safely at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your signs get worse or if in case you have questions or concerns.

A negative test end result means you probably didn’t have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. However, it is possible to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 but not have enough virus in your body to be detected by the test. For example, this might happen if you happen to just lately grew to become infected however you don’t have symptoms, yet; or it could happen in the event you’ve had COVID-19 for more than a week earlier than being tested. Keep in mind that a negative test doesn’t imply you are safe for any length of time. You might be exposed to COVID-19 after your test, get infected and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

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

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

You need to obtain the results of your test as early as 24 hours after sample collection, however someday it can take a few days depending on lengthy it takes the pattern to achieve the laboratory and what number of other samples are within the queue to be tested.

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

The principle 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 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 not contagious. So chances are you’ll proceed to test positive if in case you have had COVID-19 within the distant past, although you can’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

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

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

Diagnostic tests:

PCR test: This tests for the presence of the particular 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 however are less accurate than a PCR test. Fast antigen tests are most accurate when used within a couple of days of the start of your signs, which is when the largest quantity of virus is current in your body. Because this test shouldn’t be as accurate as a PCR test, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider could order a PCR test to verify 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 these antibodies. It typically takes a few week after being contaminated for enough 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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