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

The coronavirus illness 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 those tests assist clinicians and researchers accurately determine extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus chargeable for COVID-19.

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

Types of COVID-19 Tests

Several new methods have been developed to diagnose COVID-19, a lot of which have their own alternative strategies of administration and unique benefits:

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

At-dwelling assortment tests: Tests performed at house are only available by a health care provider’s prescription. These tests permit the affected person to self-gather a pattern in their dwelling 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 two foremost types of COVID-19 tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests include molecular tests, equivalent to reverse transcription polymerase chain response (RT-PCR) and antigen tests.

Getting a test for COVID-19 can be challenging for some individuals, particularly considering the fast evolution on testing steerage on testing options. While every test options its own limitations, molecular tests are maybe the simplest strategies available.

Below is an outline of those different tests, together with what they’ll do to establish the illness and their limitations.


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Antigen Tests

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


Fast outcomes: The test makes use of technology just like that used in a pregnancy test and yields results within minutes


Performed at a hospital or clinic: At-home antigen tests usually are not widely available, so patients typically have 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 evidence suggesting rates as high as 50%

Antibody Tests

Antibody tests look for particular antibodies generated by the immune system in response to a virus, together with 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 involves taking a pattern with a finger stick or blood draw.

It will possibly take several days or weeks to develop antibodies after viral publicity, but these proteins typically remain within the blood for several weeks after recovery. Therefore, antibody tests show whether or not an individual has had an an infection, making them not effective for diagnosing an active coronavirus infection. Likewise, there’s not sufficient ample evidence to counsel that the presence of those antibodies determine that the immune system is protected from future exposure to a coronavirus.

FDA Works Time beyond regulation to Approve Diagnostic Tests for COVID-19

The FDA has been working with a number of 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 steerage that offers regulatory flexibility to laboratories and commercial producers that carry out high-complexity testing and create tests for the coronavirus.

More Testing Provides Better Insight Into COVID-19

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

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