COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What is a PCR test?

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is carried out to detect genetic materials from a particular organism, reminiscent of a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you’re contaminated at the time of the test. The test may additionally detect fragments of virus even after you are no longer infected.

What’s a COVID-19 PCR test?

A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to analysis 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 should get tested for COVID-19?

Get tested:

If you have signs of COVID-19.

In case 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 provide testing should 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 collection, 2) extraction, and 3) PCR.

Pattern collection is completed using a swab to gather respiratory material found in your nose. A swab incorporates a soft tip on an extended, flexible stick that is inserted into your nose. There are completely different types of nostril swabs including nasal swabs that collect a pattern immediately inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is sufficient for collecting material 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 perform a process called extraction, which isolates genetic material from the sample together with genetic material from any virus that could be present.

The PCR step then uses particular chemical substances and a PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, which cause a reaction to happen that makes tens of millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. During this process, one of many chemicals 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 special software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result.

RESULTS AND FOLLOW-UP

What do COVID-19 PCR test results mean?

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

A negative test outcome means you probably did not have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. However, it is possible to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 but not have sufficient virus in your body to be detected by the test. For instance, this could happen when you recently turned contaminated but you don’t have symptoms, yet; or it could happen if you happen to’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 size of time. You could 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, stay residence and separate your self from others. If your test is negative, continue 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 soon 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, but sometime it can take a number of days relying on lengthy it takes the sample to reach 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 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 proceed 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 within the distant past, despite the fact that you’ll be able to’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 two types of tests, diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests tell you if in case you have an active (current) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests inform you that you simply 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 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 signs, which is when the most important quantity of virus is present 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 substantiate the negative test result.

Antibody test:

Antibody (serology) test: This tests detects if 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 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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