Do you need to get a COVID test, but are not sure which one is best? With there being several types of tests available now, it will help to know the differences between them all.

PCR Test

A PCR test is considered the gold standard for testing, since it looks for evidence of COVID at the molecular level. The test works by taking a nasal or saliva sample and looking for the RNA and protein that is evidence that you have COVID in your body. If you do, then the test can prove that you currently have COVID or have recently had COVID. That is because a previously infected person can still have that evidence of COVID in their body, even though the virus is not active.

However, the main issue with a PCR test is that it can take a while to get the results back. Some facilities can process the results in a matter of hours, while other facilities can take a couple days. This can make it frustrating if you want fast results when you are unsure of when the results will come in.

Antigen Test

An antigen test is looking for a small part of the virus to see if you have an active infection. There are many home kits that are now available that you can use yourself, or you can go to a testing site and have them perform the test for you to ensure that the sample is collected properly. 

The main disadvantage of antigen testing is the accuracy of the test. While false positives are rare, false negatives are more common. That is why these tests often come in packs that include multiple tests, and advise you to take a second test after a specific amount of time. If you have symptoms and have a negative antigen test, consider taking a PCR test as well just to make sure. 

The upside is that antigen tests provide same-day results in a matter of minutes. If you need to screen yourself for COVID before traveling or a gathering, antigen tests are a great choice. 

Antibody Test

The antibody test works by taking a blood sample and looking for evidence that you have had a previous infection. While it is not great for checking if you have an active infection, it can help confirm suspicions that you had a previous infection. This can give you some peace of mind if you have the antibodies in your system and if you are at risk of getting infected. Look into same day COVID testing for more information.