What is PCR used for?
The health of everyone in the community is at risk when there is a virus as pervasive as COVID-19 in circulation. The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test provides the most accurate and reliable means for detecting and diagnosing the virus.
What is the purpose of COVID-19 PCR tests?
If you’re experiencing symptoms, or suspect that you’ve come in contact with someone who may have an active infection, the COVID-19 PCR test will give you the most definitive result.
This diagnostic test is often used as a follow-up if you’ve had a positive sample from earlier, less rigorous testing (such as the antigen test outlined below).
Diseases That Polymerase Chain Reaction Testing Can Detect
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is a technique used to “amplify” small segments of DNA in order to facilitate the detection of various infections diseases.
The variety of applications for PCR testing are only growing. In fact, DNA produced by PCR was used in mapping techniques in the Human Genome Project.
PCR is also used in applications as varied as DNA fingerprinting, the detection of bacteria or viruses (notably AIDS), as well as genetic disorders.
COVID-19 Tests Accuracy
What is the difference between PCR nasal swab and the COVID-19 antigen test?
The PCR Test
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test finds genetic material from organisms like viruses. If you’re showing symptoms of the Coronavirus, a PCR test will detect the virus if you’re infected at the time of the test.
This test allows the technicians at whatever clinic you’ve been tested at to more accurately determine whether you’re positive or negative for COVID-19.
The Antigen Test
The difference between antigen testing and PCR testing comes down to speed. This method is a quick way to check for COVID-19. The technique used in antigen tests can quickly determine positive or negative results but is generally considered not to be as accurate as the PCR Test.
This type of test detects the presence of the Coronavirus when a sample is taken within a few days of the start of symptoms of the disease. If your rapid test result comes back positive, your healthcare provider may contact you to schedule a PCR test.
As these tests are not as accurate, the lab may wish to rule out the possibility that your test results produced a false positive.
The Antibody Test
While the above two tests are considered diagnostic tests, the antibody test doesn’t test for an active infection. Instead, this test will search your system for the presence of antibodies that relate to the Coronavirus disease.
Here the lab will be testing to see if you possess antibodies that are produced if you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 infection. You may not even be aware that you’ve been in contact with the virus (especially if you’ve not shown any symptoms).
But if you have, a laboratory will be able to take a blood sample and see if you have the antibody that’s produced when you’ve had the SARS-COV-2 virus in your system.
How long does it take to get results from a COVID-19 PCR test?
The speed at which the results are available is due in part to the provider where you were tested, and if they have the diagnostic tools and clinic staff available to perform the analysis on site. If your samples are processed quickly, you may have your results in as little as 24 hours.
If the samples need to go to another lab at a different site, you may not know for a couple of days.
How is the COVID-19 rapid test (PCR) done?
PCR testing is done in 3 steps:
Step 1) A clinic will collect a sample by having a trained professional insert a swab in your nose. The respiratory material from your nose is then sealed in a tube and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Step 2) The clinic will then send your sample to a laboratory where a technologist will isolate the gene material, including any samples that may have come from COVID-19.
Step 3) The lab uses special chemicals and a machine called a thermal cycler. This equipment takes the sample and makes millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ genetic material. This material is then exposed to fluorescent light. Machines and specialized software then go to work to check for the presence of the virus.
Are PCR tests a reliable way to detect COVID-19?
Yes. Health and medical professionals rely on this as the most up-to-date and reliable method for detecting the COVID-19 viruses.
The test results from a PCR test have been called by most professionals the “gold standard” test for diagnosing people who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
Where to get tested in Los Angeles
Use the Community Attire drive-through location in NOHO (North Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA) or schedule onsite testing and let us come to you. Our tests are collected for a CLIA certified lab by trained medical professionals:
- Rapid Testing – Results in less than 30 min
- PCR Same Day Testing – 8PM results, test MUST be completed by 11AM for same day results
- PCR Next Day Testing – 24 hour test
Where to get tested in S. Florida
Community Attire provides elite concierge testing services for the tri-county area of Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami/Dade. Our services include:
- Rapid Testing – Last collection by 7PM – Results in 15 minutes
- Concierge PCR Testing – Last collection by 4:30PM – Results after 3PM the next day