COVID-19 Testing: Understanding the Different Tests

The spread of COVID-19 slows through frequent testing and monitoring. With more variants appearing and travel requirements changing, being informed about your testing options is important. 

At Your Health Lab, we are here to help you navigate through these strange times. Our labs offer surveillance testing, antibody testing, and PCR testing with results guaranteed within 24-48 hours of taking the test. Keep on reading to find the test that works best for you. 

Surveillance Testing

Surveillance testing can proactively identify asymptomatic individuals who may be positive for COVID-19. This type of COVID-19 testing helps stop the spread of the coronavirus by giving you early warnings of infection. It works by regularly testing for the virus so that unknown cases can be identified. Using this information, measures can be taken to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 

Routine surveillance testing can protect your schools, organizations, sports teams, care homes, and more from the potential spread of the disease. The best way to slow the spread of the virus is to continually monitor it. 

Antibody Testing

Antibody tests can detect past infections by identifying antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood. Antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes to help fight infection and protect you from getting sick in the future. In the case of COVID-19, test results that show antibodies indicate the patient was previously infected with the virus. For more information on antibody testing, we did a deep-dive on the topic a few months ago that you can find here

The CDC does not currently recommend antibody testing to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. It also does not recommend using your results from an antibody test to determine whether you need to get vaccinated if you are not currently vaccinated. 

Molecular Testing

A viral test tells you if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are two types of viral tests: molecular tests and antigen tests. Viral tests can be performed at health clinics, in laboratories, or at home. At this time, viral tests are the only COVID-19 test accepted if you wish to travel internationally. If you are unvaccinated and traveling domestically, the CDC recommends having proof of a negative result from a viral test. 

Before we get into explaining the differences between the two tests, remember to get tested as soon as possible if you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The most common symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, and congestion.

PCR Tests

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 is a molecular test that analyzes samples that come from your nose or your mouth. The purpose of the test is to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The PCR test has been the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19 since February 2020.

Here at Your Health Lab, we offer the gold standard of high throughput COVID-19 PCR testing. Tests are sent to our laboratory and resulted within 24-48 hours of being at our lab. To receive your results, we will send your results in a HIPPA compliant manner through text message, email or both. We are constantly expanding our COVID-19 collection sites, so check here to find a location near you.

Antigen Tests

Antigen-based tests, which typically can be taken at home, can detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. Antigen tests are also known as “rapid tests” because you can receive your results within the hour of taking the test. Though antigen tests are effective, we recommend taking a PCR test to get the most accurate results. 

The bottom line

It’s important to know which COVID-19 test is right for you. You can help slow the spread of the coronavirus through regular testing and monitoring. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 testing, or any lab testing in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. With new information constantly being circulated, Your Health Lab is here to keep you and your community safe, informed, and healthy. 

Visit our Knowledge Center to learn more about COVID-19.


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