Pros and Cons of the Common Types of COVID-19 Tests

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has placed the world in a tailspin, which the healthcare business has responded to in kind with the development and fast deployment of tests designed to detect infection. Many of those tests help clinicians and researchers accurately determine severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus answerable for COVID-19.

And while these tests have been essential in identifying and tracking cases of an infection and illness-associated morbidity and mortality, they aren’t without their potential drawbacks.

Types of COVID-19 Tests

A number of new methods have been developed to diagnose COVID-19, many of which have their own various methods of administration and distinctive benefits:

Rapid, level-of-care diagnostic tests: These tests, which may be classified as either antigen or molecular tests, rely on a mucus pattern obtained from the throat or nose and is analyzed at a clinic or physician’s office. Outcomes from these tests can often be available within minutes of analysis.

At-house collection tests: Tests performed at house are only available by a health care provider’s prescription. These tests enable the patient to self-accumulate a sample in their home and ship it to a lab for analysis.

Saliva tests: These tests depend on samples from patients who spit right into a tube versus getting their throat or nostril swabbed. For some individuals, saliva tests may be more comfortable and in addition safer, particularly for frontline healthcare workers.

Diagnostic Tests: Molecular vs Antigen Tests

There are two important types of COVID-19 tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests embrace molecular tests, equivalent to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and antigen tests.

Getting a test for COVID-19 might be difficult for some individuals, especially considering the rapid evolution on testing steerage on testing options. While each test options its own limitations, molecular tests are perhaps the simplest strategies available.

Beneath is an summary of these totally different tests, including what they will do to determine the illness and their limitations.


The RT-PCR is the commonest test that’s continuously used to detect the virus’s genetic material in the body. Utilizing this test, patients can know whether or not or not they’ve an active COVID-19 infection and can adjust their lifestyle accordingly (i.e., quarantine).


Minimally invasive – performed using nasal swabs, throat swabs and tests of saliva or other bodily fluids

Permits for social distancing – while some molecular tests, including RT-PCR, are typically carried out at a hospital or clinic, swabs can be taken from the affected person’s automotive or at residence

Fewer false negatives in some cases – deep nasal swabs could have fewer false negatives compared with different tests, corresponding to throat swabs or saliva tests


Long turnaround instances – in some instances, RT-PCR tests can yield leads to the same day or within one to 2 days, however test results taking as much as one to 2 weeks have been reported throughout the pandemic

False negatives – molecular tests have been shown to produce results that say the patient doesn’t have the virus when they really do; the rates of false-positives have ranged from 2% to 37%

Uncomfortable for some people – deep nasal swabs will be uncomfortable for some folks, particularly small children

Antigen Tests

Antigen tests, which are performed utilizing a nasal or throat swab, help detect particular protein fragments residing on the surface of the virus. These tests function a high false-negative rate, however, resulting in many clinicians ordering molecular testing for patients with negative antigen tests who display the basic signs and signs of COVID-19.


Speedy outcomes: The test uses technology just like that used in a pregnancy test and yields outcomes within minutes


Carried out at a hospital or clinic: At-residence antigen tests are not widely available, so patients typically need to travel to a hospital or clinic to have this test carried out

High false-negative rate: Antigen tests produce higher false-negative rates than molecular RT-PCR tests, with some proof suggesting rates as high as 50%

Antibody Tests

Antibody tests look for specific antibodies generated by the immune system in response to a virus, including SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies are proteins that the body produces to combat active invading viruses and active infections. This test is also known as a serological test, blood test and serology test and involves taking a sample with a finger stick or blood draw.

It may well take several days or weeks to develop antibodies after viral publicity, however these proteins typically stay in the blood for a number of weeks after recovery. Subsequently, antibody tests show whether an individual has had an infection, making them not efficient for diagnosing an active coronavirus infection. Likewise, there may be not sufficient enough evidence to suggest that the presence of those antibodies decide that the immune system is protected from future exposure to a coronavirus.

FDA Works Overtime to Approve Diagnostic Tests for COVID-19

The FDA has been working with several diagnostic firms, together with LabCorp Diagnostics, to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 diagnostic tests that provide fast results. Additionally, the FDA has issued policy guidance that gives regulatory flexibility to laboratories and commercial producers that carry out high-advancedity testing and create tests for the coronavirus.

More Testing Provides Better Insight Into COVID-19

Worldwide deployment of efficient COVID-19 tests is essential for gaining elevated understanding about the spread of the virus, which might play a role in finding a way to cease it. Widescale adoption of antibody tests, while limiting in detecting an active infection, might also be helpful for decide whether or not recovered patients have lengthy-term immunity from the virus.

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