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Different Types of COVID-19 Tests Explained

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Different Types of COVID-19 Tests Explained

You wake up one morning with a fever. Is it COVID or something else? The only way to be sure is to get tested – but what kind of test do you get?

There are two types of diagnostic COVID tests that can tell you if you are currently infected: molecular tests and antigen tests.

  • Molecular Tests, sometimes referred to as PCR tests, are the most accurate form of testing and do not usually need to be repeated. They detect genetic material, or the RNA of the coronavirus. A nasopharyngeal (the part of the throat behind the nose), nasal, throat, or saliva test is administered to detect the virus. Results aren’t immediate and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to one week.
  • Antigen Tests are typically used as “rapid tests.” If you get a positive result on a rapid test, you can feel pretty confident you have COVID. But, if you have symptoms and test negative, you may need to confirm your negative status with PCR test to be sure. Antigen tests sometimes result in false negatives. Samples are taken either by nasal or nasopharyngeal swab and results are given in 15-30 minutes.

Both kinds of COVID tests are most accurate 5-7 days after exposure to the virus. If you are exposed, it takes several days for the virus to produce enough particles to show up on a test. Many people expose others to COVID because they test too soon and receive a false negative.

Baton Rouge General offers COVID-19 PCR and rapid antigen testing at the Express Care locations below. No appointment is necessary.