Everything You Need to Know About Rapid COVID-19 Tests
Since the onset of COVID-19, researchers have been working towards a variety of test options that can be administered both at home and in clinics. The goal for most people is to get results as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the faster test results are received, often the less accurate they will be.
Despite their slight potential to produce false negatives, rapid COVID-19 tests are one of the primary ways in which cases have been detected since the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, these tests are valuable tools that continue to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many people do not know, however, much about how these tests work, and where to find the best testing centers.
At Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena, we offer various types of COVID-19 tests to suit the needs of all of our patients. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about rapid testing so that you can make an educated decision the next time you require a COVID-19 test.
Important Information Regarding Rapid Testing for COVID-19
Rapid antigen tests do not require lab analyses
Unlike a PCR test, rapid antigen tests can be done entirely remotely, which means the tested individual will not be required to wait for lab results. Depending on the amount of tests that need to be processed at any given time, lab results can take up to several days before they are returned. Rapid testing can be done anywhere, which is why you can find miniature testing sites popping up under small outdoor tents all over the world. The healthcare worker can administer your test and analyze the swab for antigens using a simple, handheld device. Results may be provided in fifteen minutes or less.
There are two methods of rapid testing for COVID-19
The most widely known form of rapid testing is the antigen test. Most people associate PCR tests with a much slower processing time that can take up to three days to complete. The difference between the two is that antigen tests search for evidence of a protein that attaches to the surface of the COVID-19 virus. Alternatively, PCR tests look for genetic material that is housed within the virus and therefore produces a slightly more accurate result.
What many people do not realize is that both of these tests can be completed within an hour or less. The time it takes to detect genetic material in a lab setting is less than one hour. The problem is, there is usually a backlog of tests waiting to be analyzed, which is why labs will typically provide a 1–3 day window in which test results are to be returned. Those who pay a higher fee for a rapid PCR test, however, will be prioritized above other lab samples for a faster turnaround time.
Factors that affect the accuracy of rapid tests
It has recently been proven that all COVID-19 testing options currently on the market are well over 90% accurate. There is a slight variation between tests, with antigenic test results being slightly less reliable than that of PCR tests. Therefore, taking a PCR test is the best option provided you have the funds and time to do so.
If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus during a crowded event, or an interaction with someone who has tested positive, we recommend taking a rapid test as quickly as possible. The reason for this is that rapid tests have the highest chance of producing an accurate negative or positive result when the individual is first infected. Once the virus has lingered in the body for long enough, it may be more difficult for a rapid antigen test to detect the proteins that reveal a positive case of COVID-19.
If you are at a high risk of exposure to the virus and test negative through an antigenic test, you may want to confirm the result with a PCR test. This is especially important if you are experiencing any common symptoms of COVID-19 such as difficulty breathing, loss of taste, or loss of smell.
The best places to seek out COVID-19 rapid testing
Rapid testing for COVID-19 is widely available across the United States. However, it is important to go to a facility that allows for sufficient social distancing and other protective measures that prevent the spread of a potentially positive case. If you live in the Pasadena area, Advanced Urgent Care is the best place to find rapid testing administered by qualified healthcare professionals. We have access to an on-site lab that works to return results for PCR tests as quickly as possible.
If you believe you may have been affected by the virus, book a PCR test at our clinic using our convenient online portal or call us for more information. Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19!