COVID-19 and PCR Testing

What’s a PCR test?
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic material from a particular organism, comparable to a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus in case you are contaminated at the time of the test. The test might also detect fragments of virus even after you might be 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 presently infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is the “gold commonplace” 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:

When you’ve got signs of COVID-19.
If in case you have been within six toes of someone for quarter-hour or more who has tested positive for Covid-19. (Note: some testing sites don’t supply testing in case you’ve been exposed but don’t have symptoms.)
TEST DETAILS
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 three) PCR.

Sample assortment is completed using a swab to gather respiratory materials found in your nose. A swab comprises a soft tip on an extended, flexible stick that’s inserted into your nose. There are totally different types of nostril swabs including nasal swabs that accumulate a pattern instantly inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go additional into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is adequate for amassing materials for the COVID-19 PCR test. After collection, the swab is sealed in a tube after which sent to a laboratory.
When a laboratory technologist receives the pattern, they perform a process called extraction, which isolates genetic materials from the sample including genetic material from any virus that may be present.
The PCR step then uses special chemical compounds and a PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, which cause a reaction to happen that makes millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. Throughout this process, one of many chemical compounds produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present in the sample. This fluorescent light is a “signal” that is detected by the PCR machine and special software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result.
RESULTS AND FOLLOW-UP
What do COVID-19 PCR test results imply?
A positive test consequence implies that it may be very likely that you’ve got COVID-19. Most individuals have mild sickness and may recover safely at residence without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or if you have questions or concerns.

A negative test consequence means you probably didn’t have COVID-19 at the time you took your test. Nonetheless, it is possible to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 but not have enough virus in your body to be detected by the test. For example, this might happen in case you recently turned infected but you don’t have signs, but; or it could happen 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’re safe for any length of time. You will be exposed to COVID-19 after your test, get contaminated and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

In case your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, stay house and separate your self from others. In case your test is negative, continue to take steps to protect your self and others from getting COVID-19. Read more about what to do when you test positive and ways to prevent getting contaminated 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 assortment, however sometime it can take a couple of days relying on long it takes the sample to achieve the laboratory and how many other samples are in the queue to be tested.

What are the advantages of a COVID-19 PCR test?
The primary advantages of COVID-19 PCR test are its accuracy and reliability. It’s 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 material, it can continue to detect fragments of SARS-CoV-2 virus even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are not contagious. So you might continue to test positive when you’ve got had COVID-19 in the distant past, although you possibly can’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

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

Diagnostic tests:

PCR test: This tests for the presence of the particular virus’s genetic material or its fragments as it breaks down. This is essentially 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 however are less accurate than a PCR test. Speedy antigen tests are most accurate when used within a few days of the start of your symptoms, which is when the most important quantity of virus is current in your body. Because this test isn’t 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 battle it. The test is detecting these antibodies. It typically takes a few 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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