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How Do I Decide Which Type of COVID Test I Need?

You must get yourself tested if you are exposed to the virus or have any symptoms of it.

This article was produced in partnership with Lilium Diagnostics.

Various kinds of coronavirus tests can be used for different purposes. These tools have different testing methods, and varying accuracy levels and timelines for obtaining the results. Apart from the hospitals, the tests are also available at the “drive-up” facilities, commercial labs, doctor’s clinics/offices, pharmacies and community test sites. The home testing kits for coronavirus are also available now so that you can carry out a test yourself at home.

The Type of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test You Need

The basic diagnostic tests can be used to find out whether a person is currently infected with the coronavirus. Diagnostic testing is widely available at hospitals and community centres in the states. If you are in Canada, you can visit the government website to find out a testing location for coronavirus close to you. Furthermore, there are also “at-home” testing kits available that you can use to test yourself or any of your family members for coronavirus. These diagnostic tests may be important when:

● You are undergoing any symptoms of COVID-19 even if you have recently recovered from the virus (in the past three months) or have been fully vaccinated for it.

● You have met someone who is currently infected by the COVID-19 virus and has tested positive for it.

● You have been in a setting where social distancing was not being practised and it was a large gathering. In such instances, it is important to get yourself tested for the virus even if you have recently recovered from the condition or have not been completely vaccinated for it.

The incubation period of the coronavirus is approximately 5 to 7 days. You can get a COVID-19 test for yourself if you think that you have been exposed to the virus due to close contact or some other reason. 

You can also talk to a physician and a healthcare provider to find out which test would be best for your condition. Multiple viral diagnostic tests are useful for people that show symptoms of being affected by coronavirus.

One of the tests is an antigen test that can provide results very quickly. If you test positive with the antigen test, you must isolate yourself so that others are protected, and the virus does not spread further.

However, if the antigen test is found to be negative you still need to undergo the PCR test for reassurance. You need to keep yourself in isolation until you get the results of the Molecular or the PCR test. Many people who do not show any symptoms of coronavirus but think that they have been exposed to it must undergo the Molecular/PCR test. The test can find out even lesser amounts of COVID-19 virus well before the symptoms occur.

The Different Types of COVID-19 Tests

There are multiple distinct kinds of tests available for coronavirus, as stated above. All the viral tests are diagnostic. The two viral and diagnostic tests include the antigen test and the Molecular or PCR test. All you need to do is to choose a good laboratory to go to for the test. 

Antigen test

The simple antigen test can be easily carried out at a clinic or doctor’s office by using a throat swab or a nasal swab. It may also be done in non-medical settings or at home. The test can provide results in only a few minutes but is less sensitive than the other PCR or Molecular tests. It will only become positive if the viral load is high. Therefore, the test may provide false negatives sometimes and its results may not always be trusted

PCR/Molecular test

The Polymerase Chain Reaction technique can be used for making billions of copies of the DNA of a virus rapidly. Therefore, the technique can be used to obtain reliable diagnostic test results. The PCR or Molecular test is much more sensitive when compared with the antigen test and can deliver specific results. The test can be carried out by obtaining samples from the saliva or through the throat or nasal swab.

Antibody test

This test may involve antibodies that the body may produce in response to coronavirus infection. The test can find out whether you had the infection previously but does not reliability communicate whether you currently have the disease. However, not all labs will provide you the numeric results. Recently, Lilium Diagnostics has rolled up their unique antibody tests which can tell you the most exact numeric results.  Therefore, these tests should not be utilized for virus diagnosis.

Coronavirus vaccination is important for ensuring that the disease is prevented and that you do not undergo any complications due to the infection. However, you must get yourself tested if you are exposed to the virus or have any of its symptoms. Talk to a physician to know more about the test or reach out to your community centre for a free test and more guidelines.