COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What’s a PCR test?
A polymerase chain response (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic materials from a specific organism, resembling a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you’re contaminated on the time of the test. The test may also detect fragments of virus even after you are not infected.

What is a COVID-19 PCR test?
A PCR test for COVID-19 is a test used to analysis people who are at the moment infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is the “gold customary” test for diagnosing COVID-19 because it’s probably the most accurate and reliable test.

Who ought to get tested for COVID-19?
Get tested:

You probably have signs of COVID-19.
If in case you have been within six ft of someone for quarter-hour or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t supply testing for those who’ve been uncovered however don’t have symptoms.)
How does a COVID-19 PCR test work?
There are three key steps to the COVID-19 PCR test: 1) sample assortment, 2) extraction, and 3) PCR.

Sample collection is completed utilizing a swab to gather respiratory material found in your nose. A swab accommodates a soft tip on a long, versatile stick that is inserted into your nose. There are different types of nostril swabs including nasal swabs that collect a pattern immediately inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is adequate for accumulating material for the COVID-19 PCR test. After assortment, the swab is sealed in a tube after which despatched to a laboratory.
When a laboratory technologist receives the sample, they perform a process called extraction, which isolates genetic materials from the sample together with genetic materials from any virus which may be present.
The PCR step then uses particular chemical compounds and a PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, which cause a reaction to occur that makes tens of millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. Throughout this process, one of many chemical substances produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present in the sample. This fluorescent light is a “signal” that’s detected by the PCR machine and special software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result.
What do COVID-19 PCR test results mean?
A positive test consequence implies that it could be very likely that you’ve COVID-19. Most people have delicate sickness and may recover safely at house without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your signs get worse or if in case you have questions or concerns.

A negative test consequence means you probably didn’t have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. However, it is feasible to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 however not have enough virus in your body to be detected by the test. For instance, this could happen in the event you recently became infected but you don’t have symptoms, yet; or it could occur if you happen to’ve had COVID-19 for more than a week earlier than being tested. Keep in mind that a negative test doesn’t imply you’re safe for any size of time. You will be exposed to COVID-19 after your test, get infected and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

In case your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, keep residence and separate your self from others. In case your test is negative, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19. Read more about what to do for those who test positive and ways to forestall getting infected with COVID-19.

How quickly are outcomes of a COVID-19 PCR test available?
It is best to obtain the results of your test as early as 24 hours after sample collection, however someday it can take a number of days depending on long it takes the sample to succeed in the laboratory and how many different samples are in the queue to be tested.

What are the advantages of a COVID-19 PCR test?
The principle advantages of COVID-19 PCR test are its accuracy and reliability. It is the most accurate test available for COVID-19 detection.

Are there downsides to a COVID-19 PCR test?
Because the test is able to detect very small quantities of virus materials, it can proceed to detect fragments of SARS-CoV-2 virus even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are no longer contagious. So chances are you’ll continue to test positive you probably have had COVID-19 within the distant previous, even though you possibly can’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

How does the COVID-19 PCR test compare with other available COVID-19 tests?
Basically, there are two types of tests, diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests let you know if you have an active (current) COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests let you know that you just already had COVID-19.

Diagnostic tests:

PCR test: This tests for the presence of the particular virus’s genetic materials or its fragments as it breaks down. This is the most reliable and accurate test for detecting active infection.
Antigen test: This test detects bits of proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens. Antigen tests are typically considered fast, taking only 15 to half-hour but are less accurate than a PCR test. Speedy antigen tests are most accurate when used within just a few days of the start of your symptoms, which is when the biggest quantity of virus is present in your body. Because this test just isn’t as accurate as a PCR test, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider could order a PCR test to confirm the negative test result.
Antibody test:

Antibody (serology) test: This tests detects if you’ve had an immune response (antibodies) to the virus. This means that you’ve had the virus and your body (immune system, specifically antibodies) has mounted an attack to struggle it. The test is detecting those antibodies. It typically takes a couple of week after being infected for enough antibodies to develop to be detected in your blood. For this reason, this test shouldn’t be used to diagnose an active infection.

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