COVID-19 Tests: What Are The Differences?

In Phase 3 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina, more establishments are now starting to re-open as we adjust to the new normal. Aside from masks and face shields, another part of the new normal is securing a negative COVID-19 test result to travel out of the country or book a hotel. 

However, since taking a COVID-19 test is a new step for most of us, it’s worth checking which COVID tests are available and what to expect when you get one. In this post, we’ll discuss different types of COVID tests, how the samples are collected, and the test result waiting time. 

Different types of COVID-19 tests

After several months in the pandemic, there are now three COVID-19 tests that will help identify if you have an active infection or you’ve been infected in the past. These include:

Molecular test or RT-PCR test

The molecular test or the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction is a diagnostic test that detects if you have an active coronavirus infection in your body. It identifies the nucleic acid produced by the SARS-COV2 virus from your saliva or sputum. 

  • Accuracy: RT-PCR test is considered the most accurate test at the moment
  • Test procedure: The specimen is taken through a swab sample from your nasopharyngeal (nasal or throat) saliva. 
  • Processing time: You can get the result for this test on the same day you were tested or in a week. The release of test results depends on the volume processed by the testing facility. 

Antigen test

The antigen test is the second diagnostic test conducted for the detection of COVID-19. It detects the specific viral proteins of SARS-COV2 in your saliva and helps diagnose if you have an active coronavirus infection in your body.

  • Accuracy: It’s the second most accurate test for COVID due to some tendencies with false-positive results in some cases. A confirmatory RT-PCR test will be required if you have symptoms of COVID and tested negative in the antigen test. 
  • Test procedure: The specimen is taken through a swab sample from your nasopharyngeal (nasal or throat) saliva. 
  • Processing time: You can get the results within 10 to 30 minutes. 

Antibody test

The antibody test detects if you were infected with COVID-19 in the past. The test identifies the antibodies that your body created to fight the virus. If the test confirms that you have active COVID antibodies in your blood, your blood plasma may help those who have critical complications due to COVID-19. 

  • Accuracy: The antibody test can’t identify if you have an active coronavirus in your body. It only detects the history of COVID infection.  
  • Test procedure: The specimen is taken through a blood sample.
  • Processing time: You can get the results on the same day or within three days. 

The sample specimens are processed by mixing chemicals with the swab samples, and the chemical reaction will determine if you are positive with COVID-19 or not. 

Carolina Pharmacy now offers rapid COVID-19 tests

In our aim to provide quality care for our patients, rapid COVID tests are now available at our Arboretum location. We offer the following COVID-19 diagnostic tests:

COVID-19 Rapid antigen test

  • Best for: Patients that are required to have health clearance for workplace purposes or to confirm that they are not infected 
  • Processing time: 10 minutes

COVID-19 RT-PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test

  • Best for: Patients who are traveling abroad or to confirm that they are not infected 
  • Processing time: 1- 3 days

Learn more about our COVID testing services by calling us now or schedule your test by filling up this online form