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

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

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

Types of COVID-19 Tests

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

Rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests: These tests, which can be categorized as either antigen or molecular tests, depend on a mucus sample obtained from the throat or nostril and is analyzed at a clinic or doctor’s office. Outcomes from these tests can often be available within minutes of analysis.

At-residence assortment tests: Tests carried out at dwelling are only available by a doctor’s prescription. These tests permit the affected person to self-gather a sample in their house and ship it to a lab for analysis.

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

Diagnostic Tests: Molecular vs Antigen Tests

There are predominant types of COVID-19 tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests embody molecular tests, resembling reverse transcription polymerase chain response (RT-PCR) and antigen tests.

Getting a test for COVID-19 may be difficult for some people, especially considering the fast evolution on testing guidance on testing options. While every test features its own limitations, molecular tests are perhaps the most effective strategies available.

Below is an overview of those completely different tests, including what they will do to establish the illness and their limitations.


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


Minimally invasive – carried out utilizing nasal swabs, throat swabs and tests of saliva or other bodily fluids

Permits for social distancing – while some molecular tests, together with RT-PCR, are generally conducted at a hospital or clinic, swabs may also be taken from the patient’s automobile or at house

Fewer false negatives in some situations – deep nasal swabs can have fewer false negatives compared with different tests, similar to throat swabs or saliva tests


Long turnaround occasions – in some situations, RT-PCR tests can yield ends in the same day or within one to 2 days, but test outcomes taking as much as one to 2 weeks have been reported in the course of the pandemic

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

Uncomfortable for some people – deep nasal swabs might be uncomfortable for some folks, especially small children

Antigen Tests

Antigen tests, which are carried out using a nasal or throat swab, assist detect particular protein fragments residing on the surface of the virus. These tests feature a high false-negative rate, nevertheless, leading to many clinicians ordering molecular testing for patients with negative antigen tests who display the classic signs and signs of COVID-19.


Rapid results: The test makes use of technology similar to that used in a being pregnant test and yields outcomes within minutes


Performed at a hospital or clinic: At-residence antigen tests should not widely available, so patients typically have to travel to a hospital or clinic to have this test performed

High false-negative rate: Antigen tests produce higher false-negative rates than molecular RT-PCR tests, with some evidence 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 fight active invading viruses and active infections. This test can also be known as a serological test, blood test and serology test and includes taking a pattern with a finger stick or blood draw.

It may take a number of days or weeks to develop antibodies after viral publicity, but these proteins typically stay within the blood for several weeks after recovery. Due to this fact, antibody tests show whether or not a person has had an an infection, making them not effective for diagnosing an active coronavirus infection. Likewise, there is not sufficient sufficient proof to counsel that the presence of those antibodies determine 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 a number of diagnostic corporations, including LabCorp Diagnostics, to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 diagnostic tests that provide speedy results. Additionally, the FDA has issued coverage guidance that offers regulatory flexibility to laboratories and commercial producers that carry out high-complexity testing and create tests for the coronavirus.

More Testing Provides Larger Insight Into COVID-19

Worldwide deployment of efficient COVID-19 tests is essential for gaining increased understanding in regards to the spread of the virus, which could play a task find a way to cease it. Widescale adoption of antibody tests, while limiting in detecting an active an infection, may be helpful for decide whether recovered patients have long-time period immunity from the virus.

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