COVID-19 is a highly contagious and new strain of coronavirus. It causes severe symptoms that can be life-threatening. We need to take explicit steps to control the outbreak, such as washing hands, social distancing, and wearing masks. Laboratory services in Otsego, MN, practice widespread testing and contact tracing people who test positive to control the spread. All these combined are the best shots for preventing the spread of COVID-19 while awaiting widespread vaccination and better treatments.
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Diagnostic Tests for Current Infections
If you want to know if you have the virus or not, there are two tests: antigen testing and molecular test.
The molecular test is done through throat swabs, nasal swabs, and tests of body fluids like saliva. You can get this test in a hospital, a medical office, or at home (FDA authorized home molecular test). This test looks for any genetic substance that comes from the virus.
The results are visible depending on the lab capacity, and they can be ready after two to three days. The rate of false negatives, which is a test that shows you don’t have the virus when you have it, depends on how long you have had the infection. A study says the rate of false-negative accuracy was 20% when the test was performed days after symptoms began but higher earlier in infection.
An antigen test is done through a throat swab or nasal swab. This test looks for protein fragments from the virus. The technology used to perform antigen tests is similar to a pregnancy test, which results after a few minutes. False-negative results occur more with antigen tests than with molecular tests. Antigen tests are quicker, less expensive, and less complex than molecular testing. This is the reason the FDA does not favor them to perform a single test. Similar to molecular tests, antigen testing false positive rate should be close to zero.
Test for Past Infection
Antibody test checks if you have been infected with COVID-19 previously.
Antibody testing is done by taking a sample of blood. This test is available at a blood-testing lab, doctor’s office, or a hospital. Antibody test checks for antibodies produced by your immune system while responding to the infection. This test cannot tell if you have an infection now, but it can tell if you had an infection in the past.
The results of this test are available within a few days. Performing an antibody test early can provide false-negative results because it takes 1-2 weeks for your immune system to produce antibodies. The reported accuracy rate of false negatives is 20%. Research has shown that antibody levels can decrease over a few months.
If there are more accurate and less expensive home testing options, we can repeatedly test ourselves before and after work or school, but we are not there yet. At GatherWell, we use the most advanced testing options available for COVID-19. For example, the antibody test and antigen tests. Contact us today and book an appointment online today.