As COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, it’s important to keep in the know about the virus that’s affecting us all in one way or another - this includes the different forms of testing currently being used to detect the coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are two different types of tests used to detect the virus, these include:
Diagnostic tests: These are typically molecular tests such as RT-PCR tests (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) or TMA and antigen tests. They test for an active infection so that individuals can make timely decisions around containment and care.
Antibody tests: These look for antibodies created by your immune system in response to the presence of the virus and can detect past infections.
If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and have severe symptoms associated with the virus - get in touch with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
What are the different types of COVID-19 tests?
There are different types of tests used to detect COVID-19. Some of which come with limitations which are important to keep in mind when choosing what test may be right for you and your current circumstances.
As previously mentioned, there are two main forms of testing: diagnostic and antibody. While there are two types of diagnostic testing, there is only one type of antibody test - each of these tests is worth knowing more about:
- Molecular tests (RT-PCR tests): The type of test used by us at LetsGetChecked
- Antigen tests
- Antibody tests
Also referred to as a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or TMA or RT-PCR test, molecular tests are currently one of the most popular forms of testing and have been the gold standard choice for a number of countries worldwide. LetsGetChecked’s Coronavirus Test (COVID-19) is a TMA or RT-PCR test.
Some important things to note regarding molecular tests include:
Method of collection: Lower nasal swab (as used by LetsGetChecked), throat swab, nasopharyngeal swab (the area of the throat behind the nose), and saliva (not as common).
Results time frame: In some areas results can take one day, while in others it may take up to a week. LetsGetChecked’s COVID-19 test aims to deliver results from our TMA or RT-PCR based test within 24-72 hours of results being received by the lab.
What it tests for: Molecular diagnostic tests are considered the gold-standard in the detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These tests are highly sensitive and can diagnose the virus even with a small amount of viral particles. A recent blinded FDA examination proved the sensitivity of these tests, read more here.
Also referred to as a diagnostic test, antigen tests can sometimes be referred to as ‘rapid antigen’ tests as they tend to deliver results quickly, but there are important factors to consider when you are deciding between testing options.
Some important things to note regarding antigen tests include:
Method of collection: Nasal or nasopharyngeal swab.
Results time frame: These tests are known to be ‘rapid’, the time frame is usually around 15-30 minutes from the home as no laboratory testing is involved.
What it tests for: This test detects an active coronavirus infection but is more likely to miss the infection or provide a false negative result in comparison to molecular tests. Negative results may need to be confirmed with a molecular test.
Sometimes known as a serological test, antibody tests may be used to test for past infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can take one-three weeks following infection for your body to begin making antibodies . If you test too soon after noticing symptoms, your body may not have had enough time to produce antibodies.
Some important things to note regarding antibody tests include:
Method of collection: Finger prick or blood sample.
Results time frame: In many locations results may be returned on the same day while in other areas it may take one-three days.
What it tests for: This test may detect if you have been infected by COVID-19 in the past, but some people that have contracted COVID-19 do not produce antibodies as the immune response can vary from person to person. This test cannot tell you if you have an active infection that can be passed onto others and it is unclear whether having antibodies can protect you from future infection.
How sensitive is the rapid antigen test for COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the sensitivity of rapid antigen tests, or rapid diagnostic tests, may sit around 34-80% . These estimates are based on antigen-based tests used on other viruses in the past such as the influenza virus.
As the accuracy of these rapid antigen tests is currently up for debate, WHO believes that over half of people who may be infected with COVID-19 could possibly be misdiagnosed, dependent on the tested group.
If I have symptoms of COVID-19, what test should I take?
While no test is 100% accurate, one of the most tried and tested is the molecular test, also commonly known as a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or TMA or RT-PCR test.
You can take this test by getting in touch with your healthcare provider or from home with LetsGetChecked’s at-home Coronavirus Test for individuals and businesses to ensure a safe workplace. We aim to deliver results within 24-72 hours of your sample being received by the lab.
If I need quick COVID-19 results, what test should I take?
If you are experiencing symptoms that need results as soon as possible, you can contact your healthcare provider to collect a sample for an antigen test, and you can order a test here for a confirmatory molecular test.
Often antigen tests are reserved for people who have symptoms who are within a few days of symptom onset.
How do I know if I’ve previously been infected with COVID-19?
An antibody test will identify antibodies that your body produced against coronavirus. However, not everyone who tests positive for coronavirus will produce antibodies and this test will not tell you if you have an active infection that can spread to others.
It can take up to 14 days after the onset of symptoms to detect antibodies in your blood so you should wait until at least 14 days from the start of your symptoms to test. It is unclear whether having antibodies to the coronavirus can protect you from reinfection.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to get tested. This can be done by getting in touch with your local health care provider or from home with LetsGetChecked’s at-home COVID-19 test.
Our Coronavirus Test (COVID-19) recently outperformed other at-home tests in a blinded FDA examination. It requires a gentle lower nasal swab to be collected by you from home and the overall process is simple:
1. Order your test online
Complete our quick online assessment. If eligible, your test will be shipped to your home free of charge from our FDA registered manufacturing facility.
2. Collect your sample
Collect your sample from the comfort of your own home using the step by step guide provided. This is a gentle and non-invasive process - not too different from using a cotton swab to clean the inside of your nose.
3. Return your sample
Return your sample using our free express UPS shipping service. We will keep in touch through email and SMS to keep you updated throughout the process.
4. Laboratory PCR-test
Your swab sample will be sent to our high complexity CLIA-certified laboratory for full analysis by our team of clinical scientists.
We aim to deliver your results to your secure online account within 24-72 hours after we receive your sample. An official lab report will be provided along with your results that you will be able to use as proof should you need it.
6. Medical support
Your health record is reviewed in real-time by a LetsGetChecked medical team member and additional support services will be provided to you as needed to help guide you on your next steps.