COVID-19 Rapid Viral Testing vs Standard Viral Testing: What Are the Differences? - ARCpoint Labs of Sugarland
ARCpoint Labs of Sugarland
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If you suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19, screening for the virus can provide peace of mind with the absence of an infection or protect your health by seeking treatment for the virus. Individuals who live in the Sugar Land area can find rapid (antigen) viral testing or standard (PCR) viral testing. Explore the key similarities and differences between these two COVID-19 viral testing options.

Testing Candidates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends viral or antigen tests to diagnose acute COVID-19 infections. The agency says both these screenings are appropriate for surveilling public health, determining whether an individual’s infection has resolved, and identifying new infections in symptomatic and exposed asymptomatic individuals.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may include shortness of breath, cough, chills, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, headache, vomiting, congestion, and diarrhea.
Some individuals may require COVID-19 before necessary surgery or travel. Only the standard (PCR) viral test qualifies for this purpose; antigen testing does not meet the guidelines. However, antigen tests may be more appropriate for screening large groups, such as for employment purposes.

Method of Screening

Both viral tests and antigen tests can be done with either a throat or nasal swab. If you seek a viral test in the Sugar Land area, you may also be able to choose a saliva test. Antigen and viral screenings use a similar method. The lab technician collects a mucus sample from the nose or throat with a sterile swab. He or she bags this sample and securely transports it to the testing site, where it must be tested within 72 hours. The sample must remain at the correct temperature to keep a potential COVID-19 infection alive during transport.

Method of Detection

Both rapid antigen tests and standard viral tests detect the presence of the virus in the body. According to the Food and Drug Administration, antigen screening looks for proteins associated with COVID-19 infection. Standard testing uses a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect genetic material related to COVID-19. Both tests are valid within 48 hours of initial exposure.

Results and Accuracy

You can expect to receive your results within just an hour or two with an antigen test. For viral testing, result times vary depending on the test site. Some labs offer same-day results, while others take up to a week.
The FDA reports that viral tests have a higher accuracy rate than antigen tests. While positive antigen results are very accurate, you may want to have a viral test to confirm a negative antigen test, particularly if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Issues that may affect accuracy include failure of the swab to collect an existing infection, problems with the screening chemicals used at the lab, or temperature changes during transport.


{Sub:BusinessName} is your trusted source for COVID-19 testing in the greater Houston area. We offer rapid (antigen) viral testing with results available and less than 24 hours. You can also opt for standard (PCR) testing, which delivers results in three to five days, as well as antibody testing to determine previous exposure to the virus. In addition to individual testing, businesses can arrange on-site screening to ensure their employees’ safety as they return to work. Get in touch to learn more or schedule your COVID-19 diagnostic test today.

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