PCR testing vs. at-home Rapid Covid-19 tests; Benefits and limitations.

Testing is crucial in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Over two years into the pandemic, many people are still facing challenges on the best way to get the Covid test or are exasperated because they can’t find the best test to be conducted, especially with new variants of coronavirus.

From the beginning of 2020 up until now, over 650 million Covid tests have been conducted in the United States, with more than 50 million of the tests proving that covid-19 is the virus in charge of the global pandemic. After vaccines were declared, the testing rates declined and reduced the rate of new cases.

Many test options exist compared to the early stages of the pandemic. Lab tests are still used, but there are new at-home tests that have made it easier to conduct the test. However, each method of examination has its benefits and limitations.

What is a Polymer Chain Reaction test?

You may have heard of the different coronavirus testing methods; Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are usually conducted in a healthcare setting in the doctor’s office or at a laboratory. The process utilizes a swab that the technician collects from your mouth, throat, and nose.

Once the swab is collected, an enzyme solution is used to treat the sample, examined under significant amplification where it is copied severally. The procedure allows the examination facilities to identify the particular pathogen’s genetic material (DNA) present in the sample, including pointing out the exact Virus.

These tests are highly reliable, frequently close to 100% because they are conducted quickly, and results are generated within a few hours after examining microscopic bits of the genetic material in the Virus. Due to the increased demand for the tests and the time it takes to analyze your results, they may be delayed once we factor in demand and distance.

However, in mid-2020, home test kits were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making it easier to collect your samples and then take them to the Doctor’s Office in certified laboratories and other allied organizations for analysis.

Polymer Chain Reaction test procedure

• The initial step is planning an appointment with Allied Health Organization to take the sample at their office or they can come to your home.
• After getting to the testing facility (or at your home / business), a technician will insert a swab in your nose to collect a sample. If you conduct the swab, the manufacturer will explain how far the swab should go and the number of swipes to take from your nose. Swabbing each nostril using the same swab will give the best results.
• Once the test is conducted, you will wait 24-48 hours after the laboratory receives your sample for the test results. The time it takes to get the results depends on the area demand and the lab; you can go visit one of our offices in Hialeah, Cooper City, Fort Pierce, Sanford (Orlando), Dallas Texas, and the New York office.
• After a few hours at minimum or sometimes a few days, you will obtain the test results depending on the type of test that you ordered.

Other options that identify nucleic acid instead of antigens can be used in outpatient clinics, and the results will be out in less than 30 minutes.

Benefits and limitations of Polymer Chain Reaction Tests

The PCR test is the most trusted type of test because of its increased accuracy in detecting the Virus present in asymptomatic individuals at 99.97% accurate. The test can also be conducted at home, where mobile testing is done, and the sample is then forwarded to the lab for analysis.

The limitation of this type of test is that it can be susceptible; for instance, it can indicate a positive result after being contagious. The test is relatively costly unless you have insurance and takes a little more time to get the results. The samples obtained must also be sent to the lab for analysis.

What is a Rapid Test?

Rapid antigen testing is a process that identifies viral proteins present in the SARS-CoV-2 Virus that are responsible for the covid-19 Virus instead of the nucleic acid identified from the Virus. The test is relatively fast and can be used to identify different viruses responsible for illnesses like flu, sexually transmitted infections, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

The FDA has approved more rapid antigen tests for the novel coronavirus since they are easily accessible and offer a more straightforward way of testing. You can get the test results in less than an hour. Rapid antigen tests are not as accurate as PCR tests but they are an effective way to determine if you have had the virus for 4+ days.

Rapid Antigen COVID Test procedure

• The initial step is obtaining the rapid antigen test kit from the store or a health office.
• You will find the open kit and keenly follow the instructions as provided by the manufacturer.
• The kit has a swab, a liquid, and a container that holds the swab as you await the results.
• The manual will instruct you to use the liquid present in the kit to wet the testing area.
• Using the swab, you will collect the sample by circularly moving the swab in your nostrils.
• After swabbing, you will insert the swab into the container, where it will react with the liquid and the testing surface.
• The results may be observed almost immediately, but you should wait for the period indicated in the instructions, which is between 15-30 minutes.

Antigen tests are insensitive mobile testing methods with up to an 80% accuracy rate of detecting the Virus in people experiencing the covid-19 symptoms. However, Polymer Chain Reaction tests are reliable, with an accuracy of almost 100% in most cases. Antigen and pathogen tests are the most effective method of rapid test because the results are instant, unlike Polymer Chain Reaction tests which involve laboratory analysis before obtaining the accurate results.

What are the benefits and limitations of Rapid Antigen Tests?

The main advantage is conducting the test at home and obtaining the results in less than 60 minutes. The test is relatively cheaper than PCR tests, and it is ideal for serial or repeated tests. The test is essential in differentiating between covid-19 and cold/flu symptoms.

The test has limitations like being much less accurate than PCR. They don’t work well for people without the symptoms. The sample accuracy is dependent on the quality of the sample collected, and any error you make affects the test results. They often will not show a positive result for 3-5 days after the patient is infected.

Which is the best test for you?

There is no correct or wrong answer when choosing the best coronavirus test method. However, considering your symptoms, time, and where to conduct the test helps make the best decision. If you are feeling sick, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible.

For instance, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that you suspect to be covid-19, a rapid test will be appropriate for a quick answer to help you get to isolation but you should follow up with a PCR test. However, if you are exposed to someone with Covid-19 and don’t have any symptoms, take the PCR test before you start getting symptoms so that you can keep others from getting the virus. For symptomatic, those who are sick, apart from taking rapid tests and presymptomatic patients, PCR is the best option because it will offer very accurate results.

Are you experiencing the covid symptoms but tested negative on the rapid test? That does not mean you do not have the Virus; you can conduct the test at least twice after some days to be safe. Early symptoms may show that despite a person being vaccinated, the body is aggressive to the Virus. There is a possibility that the viral load is not sufficient to make the rapid test turn positive. The rapid home tests will only show a positive after your body starts producing antigens to fight the virus.

Conclusion

Both rapid antigen tests and PCR are dependable if you have the symptoms that you suspect could be from covid-19. Suppose you want to get the most accurate coronavirus test. In that case, we can send a testing professional to your home in the Orlando area, Fort Lauderdale,
and Miami. If you can visit one of our offices in Hialeah, Cooper City, Fort Pierce, Sanford (Orlando), Dallas Texas, and the New York office or any other allied health organization to help deal with the novel coronavirus. To call for more information or for an appointment call 954-945-8006 or visit our website at www.alliedhealthorganization.com.

Share :

Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp

Get Updates

Subscribe to our laboratory testing blogs for interesting updates.

More From us