COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What is a PCR test?

A polymerase chain response (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic materials from a specific organism, equivalent to a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus in case you are contaminated at the time of the test. The test might additionally detect fragments of virus even after you might be now not infected.

What is a COVID-19 PCR test?

A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to analysis people who find themselves at the moment contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is the “gold commonplace” 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 signs of COVID-19.

When you’ve got been within six feet of somebody for 15 minutes or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t supply testing if you’ve been uncovered but 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.

Pattern assortment is done using a swab to collect respiratory material present in your nose. A swab contains a soft tip on an extended, flexible stick that’s inserted into your nose. There are totally different types of nose swabs together with nasal swabs that collect a pattern instantly inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is enough for accumulating materials for the COVID-19 PCR test. After assortment, the swab is sealed in a tube and then despatched to a laboratory.

When a laboratory technologist receives the pattern, they carry out a process called extraction, which isolates genetic materials from the pattern including genetic materials 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 thousands and thousands of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. During this process, one of the chemical compounds produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present in the sample. This fluorescent light is a “signal” that’s 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 results mean?

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

A negative test outcome means you probably didn’t have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. Nevertheless, it is feasible to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 however not have sufficient virus in your body to be detected by the test. For instance, this may occur should you lately turned infected but you don’t have symptoms, but; or it might occur if 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 length of time. You might be exposed 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 house and separate your self from others. If your test is negative, continue 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 prevent getting infected with COVID-19.

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

You must receive the outcomes of your test as early as 24 hours after sample assortment, but someday it can take just a few days relying on lengthy it takes the sample to reach the laboratory and how many other samples are in the queue to be tested.

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

The main 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 proceed 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 if in case you have had COVID-19 within the distant previous, though you possibly can’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.


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

Basically, there are types of tests, diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests let you know when you’ve got an active (present) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests tell you that you just 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 probably 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 half-hour 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 symptoms, which is when the biggest amount of virus is current in your body. Because this test isn’t 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 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 these antibodies. It typically takes a couple of week after being contaminated 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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