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Here’s What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Tests

Jul 20, 2020

Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by visiting the CDC website.

As more COVID-19 testing options become available, it can be confusing to figure out the purpose of each test and what your results mean. Read on to get a breakdown of what you need to know about three common types of testing.

What You Can Expect From Each COVID-19 Test

Molecular Test

This diagnostic test is highly accurate in detecting the presence of viral RNA to determine whether or not someone has an active COVID-19 infection. At CHI St. Joseph Health, our team is able to get results back within 1-4 hours. Some testing sites take up to a week to get results. If you get a molecular test, it’s important to quarantine until you receive results.

Antigen Test

This diagnostic test is helpful in quickly detecting the presence of an active COVID-19 infection, sometimes providing results within 15 minutes. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order a molecular test if your antigen test comes back negative. This is because the antigen test often produces positive results with high accuracy and negative results with low accuracy, meaning that a negative result does not guarantee the absence of infection.

Antibody Test

This test identifies antibodies indicative of prior infection and increased immunity to the virus through a blood sample. It is not able to detect an active COVID-19 virus. Keep in mind that antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after initial infection, so a doctor may recommend a second antibody test if results come back negative.

A Side-By-Side Comparison of COVID-19 Tests

Here’s a helpful chart you can use to easily differentiate the types of testing.

Infographic

Find more information about how you can take care of yourself and your loved ones during the pandemic on our COVID-19 Information Hub. Need a quick symptom evaluation? Schedule a televisit with your CHI St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physician.

Source:
FDA | Coronavirus Testing Basics