Covid-19 has gradually incorporated into our daily lives, making us discover a new normal. However, as we are getting more acquainted with this virus’s behaviour, the number of cases is also exponentially increasing. Given the scenario, we must do continuous testing and take the required precautions. In addition to being more cautious, it is also necessary for us to know our available options.
Currently, there are two commonly used tests- The rapid antigen test and the RT-PCR test. Both of them have distinct characteristics, but they rely on establishing whether or not you are optimistic about the virus at the end of the day.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the Antigen Test during May 2020. It is a rapid form of testing which provides results within 20 minutes of the process. Along with being quick, it is also very affordable and convenient. If you’re planning on visiting an older person and fear the risk of being asymptomatic, this is precisely what can come in handy.
In the case of acute infection, viral antigens freely move in the upper reportorial track. Hence, the sample is taken through a nasopharyngeal swab and, rarely, a saliva swab. This swab requires special training and can’t be done at home.
The antigen test does not test for the virus as a whole; it detects parts of the virus-like the nucleocapsid protein. Through a lateral flow of immunoassay, there are three agents present to dissect it. The positive antigen test result is considered very accurate. Still, there’s an increased chance of false-negative results — meaning it’s possible to be infected with the virus but have a negative result.
On the other hand, the most commonly used test, The RT-PCR, or the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test, has proven to be consistently accurate. This molecular test takes up to 24 hours to provide the result and is relatively more expensive. The sample is taken through a similar method as the antigen test- a nasopharyngeal swab or an oropharyngeal swab.
Coronaviruses have RNA or ribonucleic acid as their genetic material, due to which it needs to be converted into a two-strand DNA using an enzyme known as reverse transcription. The complexity of this virus is entirely worked through amidst this test. Hence, proving its accuracy.
Although these two tests can be differentiated on the basis of technology and time consumed, they both cater to different sets of patients based on their location and symptoms. Ultimately, they both give results to your only question- “Am I Covid-19 positive?“
Stay Home, Stay Safe, Because Together We Can Get Through This Pandemic.