Laguna Beach Urgent Care

Can You Trust Rapid COVID Testing Services?

Posted on Jan 17, 2022 in COVID-19 Test | No Comments

Can You Trust Rapid COVID Testing Services?

As COVID-19 continues to be a problem, there’s been a recent push to embrace rapid COVID testing services.  Walk-in clinics offer them to anyone who comes by, and there’s even been talk of freely distributing tests on a nationwide basis.

So how does rapid COVID testing work?  And can the results be trusted?  Here’s what you should know.

1. How The Rapid COVID Test Works

Broadly speaking, there are two types of COVID tests: molecular tests, and antigen tests.  Molecular tests directly look for evidence of the COVID virus in your blood, and typically require sending the test off to a lab – delaying results by days or weeks.

On the other hand, rapid COVID tests are antigen tests.  Rather than looking for COVID directly, it looks for evidence of antibodies in your body that had been generated to fight off COVID.  This test can be performed in a clinic, or even at home, bringing results in less than an hour.

Fluid samples are typically taken from the nose, basically just by using a Q-tip to collect mucus.  Occasionally, saliva samples may be used as well.  This is true of both types of testing.

2. Is Rapid COVID Testing Reliable?

The short version is that rapid antigen tests are less reliable than molecular tests, but they’re still fairly reliable.  In particular, false positives are fairly rare.  If a rapid test says you have COVID, you probably do have it.

However, they are less reliable when it comes to negative results.  Antigen tests require the patient to have a fairly high viral load, so a patient with a weak infection may get a negative result even if they’re technically infected.  The problem is, they may still be able to transmit the disease.

If someone is having COVID-like symptoms, but the rapid test comes back negative, a doctor or clinic may order a molecular test to double-check.  Alternatively, a patient may be advised to isolate for a week, and then take another rapid test.  Multiple negatives in a row increase the chances of the results being reliable.

In short, rapid COVID tests aren’t perfect, but in most cases, they’re ‘good enough’ to give a person guidance.  And if there’s any doubt, there are other testing options.

Get COVID-19 Testing in Laguna Beach

If you suspect you have COVID-19 or any of its variants, don’t ignore the problem.  Contact Surfside Urgent Care of Laguna Beach to schedule rapid COVID testing.