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The Difference Between Rapid COVID-19 and PCR Testing

Posted by on Feb 10, 2021 in Blog | No Comments

Despite the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to roll out, it is difficult to say how long it will be before the entire population is protected against the virus. Consequently, COVID-19 testing is as important as ever, and it is up to each individual to decide whether to use a rapid COVID-19 test or a PCR test to check their health status. It is extremely important to educate oneself on the differences between these two tests in order to make an informed decision.

At Surfside Urgent Care of Laguna Beach, we offer appointments for both rapid and PCR COVID-19 testing. Below we have explained the difference between these two tests and how they may affect your results.

Rapid COVID-19 vs. PCR Testing: What You Need to Know

Rapid COVID-19 tests are not always accurate

Rapid COVID-19 tests can produce results within hours, which may seem appealing to those who are looking for an immediate diagnosis. Unfortunately, these antigen tests have a much higher rate of false negatives than the PCR test, which analyzes genetic material in a laboratory. Therefore, those who present symptoms of COVID-19 should seek out a PCR test in the event that a rapid COVID-19 test comes up negative.

PCR tests may take up to three days

With the diagnostic PCR COVID-19 test, patients can expect to receive results between 12-72 hours. While rapid COVID-19 tests may be effective for those who are currently suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, the PCR test produces a much more accurate result even if you are not yet experiencing any symptoms. This type of testing is therefore useful for frontline workers, travelers, primary caregivers for at-risk individuals, and anyone else who is regularly in contact with others.

Both tests are administered by taking a swab

During both the PCR and rapid COVID-19 test, the individual can expect to experience some discomfort, as the healthcare professional will need to take a swab from inside the patient’s nose, throat, or mouth. This provides the facility with proteins and genetic material that are used to indicate the individual’s health status.

Accuracy is never guaranteed

As previously noted, the PCR test is far more accurate than the rapid COVID-19 test. However, test-takers should be aware that no test can guarantee 100% accuracy, and social distancing among other health measures should be practiced regardless of one’s test result.

Schedule your appointment for a PCR or rapid COVID-19 test at our clinic today!