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PCR vs Rapid Testing for COVID: What are the Differences

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

COVID-19 is a form of coronavirus that hasn’t appeared in humans before 2019. It causes respiratory illness and is part of a larger family of coronaviruses responsible for everything from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure and may include a cough, fever, headache, loss of taste or smell, and shortness of breath.
However, patients with a confirmed case of COVID-19 have reported a wide variety of symptoms so that the virus may manifest itself quite differently from person to person. Some people with COVID-19 may experience mild symptoms, while others may be sick enough to be hospitalized. In some patients, especially those with other medical conditions, COVID-19 can be fatal.

What Is the PCR Test for COVID?

The PCR test is the most reliable test available to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It involves either a throat or nasal swab. The test checks the sample for genetic material associated with the virus and can do so within 48 hours of infection, even if the patient has no symptoms. The PCR test can be carried out in the hospital or an outpatient setting. In some areas, the PCR test is administered in a “drive-through” setting. Results usually take two to three days but may be ready in as little as 24 hours or may take up to a week during periods of heavy testing.
Some people may need a COVID-19 test for travel purposes or in preparation for a surgical procedure. The PCR test is the only screening currently accepted for those purposes. ARCpoint Labs of Omaha offers the PCR test for COVID-19.

What Is the Rapid Test for COVID?

The Rapid test for COVID is also known as the antigen test. It, too, uses a throat or nasal swab. The antigen test identifies protein fragments that are specific to the virus. The Rapid test can be done in an outpatient clinic or hospital setting. It is called the Rapid test because you get results quickly, sometimes within 15 minutes. ARCpoint Labs of Omaha offers the Rapid test for COVID-19.

The best candidate for a Rapid test has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a confirmatory tool. While results are fast, and the test is can detect infection within 48 hours of exposure, the Rapid test is generally less reliable than the PCR test. The antigen test does not meet testing requirements for travel or surgeries. The Rapid Test is a convenient choice in settings where you need to test large groups of people at a time.

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In some patients, especially those with other medical conditions, COVID-19 can be fatal. You should contact your healthcare provider for guidance if you are sick. Additional steps to reduce the virus’s spread include washing your hands multiple times each day, staying home if you are sick, using hand sanitizer and of course, wearing a mask. Reliable testing for COVID-19 is part of the strategy for getting a handle on the pandemic. At {Sub:BusinessName}, we want to be part of the solution. We offer testing for individuals, but we also work with employers to establish group testing for employees. Contact us today and let us give you the tools to take care of yourself and your team.

Featured Image: Horth Rasur / Shutterstock 

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