As everyone begins planning for the holidays, testing for Covid-19 to keep family and friends safe can feel overwhelming. Are real time PCR tests the best option for you? Keep reading to learn more and decide which test is best for you.
How do PCR tests work?
Although PCR tests and antigen tests both test for Covid-19, they detect the virus differently. Antigen tests detect viral proteins, while PCR tests detect the genetic material of the virus itself. This means PCR tests can detect Covid-19 at earlier stages of infection.
PCR test samples are collected using nasal swabs, throat swabs, or saliva collection (spitting into a tube). Availability and pricing of a PCR test can vary depending on which test you choose.
Real time PCR tests
Real time PCR tests, known as RT-PCR tests, are considered the “gold standard” in accuracy. These tests use a nasal or throat swab to determine if someone is infected with Covid-19. These tests require lab processing and typically return results in 24-72 hours. Real time PCR tests are available from healthcare providers and many public testing sites.
DIY test kits are also available for purchase from many pharmacies and online retailers. These kits allow you to self-collect a sample and mail it to a lab for processing. It should be noted that the way samples are stored can affect the accuracy of real time PCR test results, which is more likely to be an issue with samples being delivered through the mail service.
Rapid PCR test
Rapid PCR tests offer an accuracy nearly as high as the real time PCR test, but with results in 15-45 minutes. These tests are currently only available from healthcare providers. Rapid PCR tests are slowly becoming more available as the need for highly accurate, fast, and convenient testing options continues to grow.
These tests are slightly less accurate, with false negative results more likely to occur within the first few days of infection, or over a week after infection, when the presence of the virus is at its lowest points. However, it should be noted that rapid PCR tests consistently scored over 95% in detection of Covid-19 according to a recent review.
How do the rapid antigen and rapid PCR tests compare?
Antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, as they detect proteins coating the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As such, these tests have an increased chance of false negative results, meaning someone with Covid-19 could get a negative result in error.
Drip Hydration Can Bring Real Time PCR Testing To You
Skip the unnecessary risk of exposure to Covid-19 and allow Drip Hydration to bring PCR testing to your home. With as little as 24 hours’ notice, one of our healthcare experts can visit your home and administer a real time PCR test.
Our Registered Nurses will remain on site with you to process results or bring samples back to a lab for processing, depending on which test you choose. Our experts can give you advice on what to do next in case someone tests positive. Busy families can save time by getting the whole household tested at once and take advantage of our progressive group discounts.