Differences Between COVID PCR and Rapid Tests

What are some of the differences between a COVID PCR test and a rapid test?

Here are a few:

1. PCR or Polymerase chain reaction tests detect RNA ( the virus’ genetic material).
2. Rapid tests or antigen tests detect proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens.
3. A PCR test is considered to be highly accurate. It is the most sensitive test method available at this time.
4. According to the CDC, antigen test sensitivity “varies depending on the course of infection, but generally moderate-to-high at times of peak viral load.”
5. Most PCR test specimens are processed in a lab.
6. Rapid test samples are applied to a test strip.
7. The turnaround time for PCR test results on average can be 1- 3 days (This may vary depending on a facility’s capacity to process specimens)
8. The turnaround time for rapid test results ranges from 15- 30 minutes.

Remember getting tested for COVID is very important to prevent the spread of the virus. If you are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID, you should get tested regardless of vaccination status.

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