COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What’s a PCR test?

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is carried out to detect genetic material from a selected organism, corresponding to a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you are infected on the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of virus even after you’re no longer infected.

What is a COVID-19 PCR test?

A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to analysis people who find themselves currently 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 have symptoms of COVID-19.

In case you have been within six ft of somebody for 15 minutes or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t provide testing when 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 three) PCR.

Pattern assortment is completed using a swab to collect respiratory materials found in your nose. A swab accommodates a soft tip on a protracted, versatile stick that’s inserted into your nose. There are different types of nostril swabs including nasal swabs that accumulate a pattern immediately inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is adequate for accumulating materials for the COVID-19 PCR test. After collection, the swab is sealed in a tube after which despatched to a laboratory.

When a laboratory technologist receives the pattern, they perform a process called extraction, which isolates genetic material from the sample including genetic materials 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 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 current in 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.


What do COVID-19 PCR test outcomes mean?

A positive test consequence signifies that it is very likely that you’ve COVID-19. Most people have delicate sickness and may recover safely at residence without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have questions or concerns.

A negative test result means you probably did not have COVID-19 on 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 occur in the event you recently became contaminated however you don’t have signs, but; or it might happen for those who’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 will be uncovered to COVID-19 after your test, get contaminated and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

In case your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, keep home and separate your self 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 in case you test positive and ways to prevent getting infected with COVID-19.

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

It’s best to receive the results of your test as early as 24 hours after pattern collection, however sometime it can take a number of days depending on long it takes the sample to succeed in 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 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 quantities 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 it’s possible you’ll proceed to test positive when you have had COVID-19 in the distant previous, even though you may’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.


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

Basically, there are types of tests, diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests tell you in case you have an active (present) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests tell 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 rapid, taking only 15 to 30 minutes however are less accurate than a PCR test. Speedy antigen tests are most accurate when used within a couple of days of the start of your signs, which is when the biggest amount of virus is current in your body. Because this test will not be as accurate as a PCR test, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider might order a PCR test to verify the negative test result.

Antibody test:

Antibody (serology) test: This tests detects if you’ve had an immune response (antibodies) to the virus. This signifies 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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