PCR vs. Rapid Tests

2020 was certainly full of many alarming surprises for people all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic took many nations by surprise. Still, as a society, we came a long way from when the virus’s initial discovery back in 2019. 

Namely, we’ve made significant improvements in testing. Testing for the presence of a virus is not as straightforward as it seemed. That doesn’t mean you need to be an immunology expert to understand how it works.  

Taking a little time to explore the basics of corona testing helps you understand how experts battle the viral spread.  

Are all corona tests the same? 

There are a few different ways to test for any virus. They vary in several factors, including; the types of samples you need, the particle used for detection, processing time, accuracy, equipment, and price. There are two popular techniques currently used to battle COVID-19 in the United States.  

  • PCR: 

PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, makes a virus more noticeable. Viruses are incredibly small, and it’s challenging to observe them in a raw sample alone. Scientists instead use a method that forces parts of their genetic material to multiply rapidly. Once reproduced, it becomes more obvious to see. Think of it kind of like a big in a forest. It’s difficult to recognize a single ant, but easy to spot a swarm of them. These tests are considered very accurate – but relatively slow.  

  • Rapid Tests: 

Rapid tests are also known as antigen tests. These rapid tests detect the presence of specific protein fragments indictive of the virus. Results come very quickly – sometimes in as little as 15 minutes. While fast, they do run the risk of elevated false positives. In many cases, if a suspicious case comes back negative, the doctor recommends a follow-up PCR test.  

Which test is better? 

It’s difficult to say which test is “better.” In the end, it’s all a matter of what you are looking to do with the test. If you want to optimize accuracy – PCR is arguably the better way to go. On the other hand, if you need results quickly, antigen tests take only a couple of minutes.  

The best thing you can do is lead a lifestyle that follows current restrictions and limits the chance of spreading the disease to other people. It’s important to remember that the disease often does not manifest itself aggressively.  

Even if you feel perfectly fine and healthy (or don’t worry about your safety), consider the risk you pose to others you encounter. Wear your masks, keep distances, limit your social interactions, and wash your hands! 

Together, we as a society can defeat the pandemic.  

Our team of professionals at PCR-DX is here to help you learn more about testing options. Our cutting-edge facilities offer the latest affordable and fast testing technologies to help you stay ahead of the curve. Contact us today for more information about the testing options that will work with your institution.  

About PCR-Dx Diagnostic 

At PCR-Dx Diagnostic, our mission is to provide our physician and practitioner clients and their patients with cutting-edge, all-inclusive PCR-based diagnostic services. Our goal is to enable medical professionals to make quick and accurate diseases diagnoses on their patients in line with our motto of “accurate testing and fast results.”