Rapid Antigen vs PCR Covid Testing
Hello, this is Dr. Yi Zhang, Medical Director at Haven Elite Urgent Care. As many of you may know or have read about, there is a new rapid test that can determine if one may have the SARS-COV-2 infection (COVID-19) the same day. Even though there are a lot of Covid-19 tests out there, I also know that many of you still have unanswered questions about the differences, pro’s and con’s of these tests. In this blog, I’d like to provide some educational information for you on Rapid Antigen vs PCR Covid Testing to have a better understanding of which test may be best for you.
What’re the Differences?
Rapid Antigen vs PCR Covid Testing
The rapid antigen test, also known as rapid covid test, is intended to provide rapid detection of SARS-COV-2 antigen in individuals who are suspected to have Covid-19 infection within the first 5 days of the onset of symptoms. The swab is collected from both nostrils and the test is performed in our own in-house lab, with results within 15 minutes. This test is used to quickly determine who has an active infection.
This test may be beneficial for those who are looking to return to school and work sooner than later. This test may also be beneficial for those who are looking to book their next flight.
However, I still advise all patients to contact their employer, school, or booking agents to clarify this test is acceptable for your return, as some may require the PCR nasal swab.
The PCR nasal swab is also used to determine if an individual has an active Covid-19 infection. It does so by detecting pieces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the nose, throat, or other areas in the respiratory tract. It does not, however, indicate any past exposure. Our PCR sample is sent out to a contracting laboratory and results are expected within 3-5 business days.
What Does it Mean if my Rapid COVID Test is Positive or Negative?
Positive Rapid Antigen results indicate the presence of the viral antigen for SARS-COV-2, which means you do have Covid-19. Having a positive test, you will need to continue to isolate and follow infection control guidelines along with any medical recommendations given by the physician.
Negative results do not rule out SARS-COV-2 infection. As there are no tests that are 100% sensitive, there may be a false negative result. Therefore, if your symptoms are highly suggestive of Covid-19, but your Rapid COVID test is negative, the physician may also order the PCR molecular test to confirm. You should continue to follow the physician’s instructions for infection control.
|COVID-19 TESTING||MOLECULAR PCR TEST||RAPID ANTIGEN TEST||ANTIBODY TEST|
|Test for active, current infection of Covid-19||✓||✓|
|Accurate positive results for active infection||✓||✓|
|Accurate negative result for active infection||Good sensitivity, although some patients may still need a repeat swab.||Patient is presumed negative. If needed Doctor will proceed with the PCR test.|
|Available at Haven Elite Urgent Care||✓||✓||✓|
How is Rapid Antigen Test Performed?
After a consultation with one of our Physicians, a nasal swab will be collected for either the PCR or Rapid antigen test from the patient, in the convenience and comfort of your own car. Once results are final we will call you to notify you and also correlate with your Primary Care Physician for a follow-up appointment if needed.
Does my Insurance Cover the Cost?
The government has approved for all private insurance carriers, Medicare and Medicaid to cover the Covid-19 PCR test as long as deemed medically necessary.
How can I Schedule an Appointment?
Scheduling an appointment is fast and easy with my team of medical professionals. An appointment is booked on a same-day basis and registration can be done over the phone!
Contact us to be tested. You can also go to our dedicated Covid-19 Testing service page.
What Types of Insurance does your Office Accept?
At this moment we are accepting all major PPO plans, Medicare, Tricare, and CASH patients. If you are having trouble locating a facility for your testing needs, call the customer service line on the back of your insurance card.
Summary of Rapid Antigen vs PCR Covid Testing
Rapid Antigen vs PCR Covid Testing, in summary, both tests detect COVID-19, but with a time variance from testing to result. They both can be used for adults and children. Our urgent care administers both rapid antigen and PCR nasal swab tests. All patients who schedule appointments for either covid tests can expect timely results.
Regardless of the test method you choose, it’s important to be tested. If you believe you are having symptoms of Covid-19, give our office a call so we can help you determine your next step for medical attention.
With all the many changes and evolving information for Covid-19, one thing that will not change is wearing your mask! Wearing your mask can help minimize exposure to yourself and others. Learn the different types of face masks and their effectiveness in our blog, Is Your Face Mask Really Protecting You.
Also, for more up to date information visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Be well and stay safe.
Love, Laugh, Heal