COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What is a PCR test?
A polymerase chain response (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, equivalent to a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you’re contaminated at the time of the test. The test may additionally detect fragments of virus even after you’re now not infected.

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

Who should get tested for COVID-19?
Get tested:

In case you have signs of COVID-19.
If you have been within six feet of somebody for 15 minutes or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t supply testing should you’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 collection, 2) extraction, and 3) PCR.

Pattern collection is completed using a swab to collect respiratory material found in your nose. A swab contains a soft tip on a protracted, flexible stick that is inserted into your nose. There are totally different types of nose swabs including nasal swabs that collect a pattern immediately inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go further into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is adequate for collecting material for the COVID-19 PCR test. After assortment, the swab is sealed in a tube and then sent to a laboratory.
When a laboratory technologist receives the pattern, they carry out a process called extraction, which isolates genetic material from the pattern including genetic material from any virus that could 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 hundreds of thousands of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. During this process, one of the chemical substances produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is current in the sample. This fluorescent light is a “signal” that is detected by the PCR machine and particular software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result.
What do COVID-19 PCR test results imply?
A positive test result means that it may be very likely that you’ve got COVID-19. Most people have mild sickness and can recover safely at residence without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or in case you have questions or concerns.

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

If your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, stay dwelling and separate your self from others. If your test is negative, proceed to take steps to protect your self and others from getting COVID-19. Read more about what to do if you test positive and ways to forestall getting contaminated with COVID-19.

How soon are results of a COVID-19 PCR test available?
It is best to receive the results of your test as early as 24 hours after sample assortment, however someday it can take a few days relying on long it takes the sample to reach the laboratory and how many other samples are within 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 not contagious. So you might proceed to test positive if in case you have had COVID-19 in the distant past, even though you possibly can’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

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

Diagnostic tests:

PCR test: This tests for the presence of the actual virus’s genetic materials or its fragments as it breaks down. This is probably 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 rapid, taking only 15 to half-hour however are less accurate than a PCR test. Speedy antigen tests are most accurate when used within a couple of days of the start of your symptoms, which is when the largest quantity of virus is present in your body. Because this test shouldn’t be as accurate as a PCR test, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider may order a PCR test to verify the negative test result.
Antibody test:

Antibody (serology) test: This tests detects if you happen to’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 combat it. The test is detecting these antibodies. It typically takes about a 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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