There are a variety of ways to test for COVID-19. This includes Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. Many private clinical laboratories are utilizing this method for two key reasons: accuracy and efficiency. PCR testing is the dominant method that global healthcare systems are using to test individuals for COVID-19.
How Does PCR Testing Work?
PCR testing works by testing for a specific antigen. When a sample is gathered from a patient, it is sent to a clinical lab for testing. PCR works by causing a strand of DNA or RNA to self multiply very quickly. Because SARS-CoV-2 is made up of RNA, this RNA can be duplicated millions of times so that it is clear if a small sample contains any trace of SARS-CoV-2. To increase accuracy it is very important that the sample is collected by a licensed medical professional. A nasopharyngeal swab must be used to take a sample and it must be correctly sealed and sent to the laboratory.
How Accurate are PCR COVID-19 Tests?
PCR has become the standard for testing because of its accuracy and a specificity of 99.7%. The sample is gathered by a licensed medical professional and the results are analyzed by a Scientist in a laboratory setting. PCR can determine if any trace amount of SARS-CoV-2 is present in a sample. Samples that were not properly sealed, have been contaminated, or that were not sent to the lab in a timely manner could yield false negatives. SARS-CoV-2 can degrade over time, so it is essential that test instructions are followed.
How Fast will you Receive COVID-19 Test Results?
It is important that the window of time between getting tested and receiving results is optimized. The longer the span of time between taking a test and receiving the results, the less accurate the results could potentially be. If turnaround time for results took weeks, it would be possible for a patient to have become infected after getting tested. With PCR testing results can be delivered accurately within 24 – 48 hours after the sample is gathered. Once results are complete, they can be digitally sent to the medical provider for review with the patient.
PCR Testing & Serology Testing
PCR testing is the accepted testing method when testing for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen. Serology testing uses blood samples to test for antibodies. The key difference here is that PCR testing will result in knowing if a sample currently contains the virus, whereas serology testing tells us if a sample contains antibodies that suggest the virus was previously present. Antibody testing is an effective way to hypothetically track how many individuals have contracted the virus and potentially recovered. Until more research is completed, we will not know to what degree antibody presence equates to potential immunity. Antibodies are not a binary system. For most infectious diseases there is a range of antibody levels that are tracked. For instance, if a patient test result is under the threshold for the antibody level needed for immunity, a booster shot may be administered to improve antibody levels. Currently antibody research for SARS-CoV-2 is still in its infancy, and without more answers, we will need to rely on both PCR testing and serology testing to effectively track this virus.
Order PCR COVID-19 Test Kits from TruGenX
TruGenX distributes PCR COVID-19 testing kits nationally to licensed medical professionals throughout the country. To order testing kits, please click here.