COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What’s a PCR test?

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic materials from a specific 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 prognosis people who are currently 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:

When you’ve got symptoms of COVID-19.

If in case you have been within six ft of someone for quarter-hour or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t provide testing in the event you’ve been uncovered 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) pattern collection, 2) extraction, and three) PCR.

Sample assortment is completed using a swab to gather respiratory materials found in your nose. A swab accommodates a soft tip on an extended, flexible stick that’s inserted into your nose. There are different types of nostril swabs together with nasal swabs that acquire a sample instantly inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go further into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is enough for amassing material 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 sample, they perform 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 uses particular chemical compounds and a PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, which cause a response to occur 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 chemical compounds produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is current 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 result signifies that it may be very likely that you’ve got COVID-19. Most individuals have delicate sickness and may recover safely at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider in case your signs worsen or when you’ve got questions or concerns.

A negative test outcome means you probably didn’t have COVID-19 on the time you took your test. Nevertheless, it is feasible to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 but not have sufficient virus in your body to be detected by the test. For instance, this may happen for those who not too long ago became contaminated however you don’t have signs, but; or it might occur in case 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 might be safe for any length of time. You can be uncovered 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, stay home and separate your self from others. In case your test is negative, continue 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 contaminated with COVID-19.

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

You must receive the results of your test as early as 24 hours after sample assortment, but someday it can take a couple of days relying on lengthy it takes the pattern to reach the laboratory and what number of 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 now not contagious. So you may continue to test positive when you have had COVID-19 in the distant past, although you may’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

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 if in case you have an active (present) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests let you know 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. 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 amount 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 could order a PCR test to verify the negative test result.

Antibody test:

Antibody (serology) test: This tests detects for those who’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 about a 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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