The Different Types of COVID-19 Tests And Why Knowing Them Is Important

COVID-19 Tests

NAATs and antigen tests are both kinds of tests that you can use to identify if you are currently infected by a specific virus such as SARS-CoV-2. This virus is the leading cause of COVID-19.

However, there still needs to be more clarity about the differences between these types of testing and which one is the best to detect if you have the virus.

This article will discuss the differences between NAATs and antigen tests and which is better for you should you need one.

So when do you need to get tested?

If you’ve had contact with an individual who has the virus, getting tested as soon as possible is essential. The sooner you find out if you’re infected, the sooner you can start treatment. Likewise, the earlier you begin treatment, the more effective it will be.

Suppose you haven’t had contact with someone who has COVID-19 but has symptoms of the virus-like a fever, cough, or sore throat. It would be best if you also got tested right away.

You should also ponder getting tested if you have been around someone sick with COVID-19 and didn’t use the proper protection against catching it, such as a mask.

If you are concerned about getting tested because of your age, you should know that testing is recommended for everyone over six months without any exceptions.

The CDC notes that children under the age of 18 are more likely than adults to get sick from COVID-19 and may need treatment in an emergency department.

In addition, kids may be less likely to tell someone if they feel ill.

So what are the two types of COVID-19 Tests right now? Let’s take a look below.

Antigen Test

These rapid tests yield results in 15-30 minutes. However, they are less reliable than NAATs, especially in the absence of symptoms.

A single antigen test result that is negative does not rule out infection.

A negative antigen test, known as serial testing, should be repeated 48 hours apart to detect disease. You may need a follow-up NAAT to confirm an antigen test result.

This is why it’s essential to get a second test after an antigen test comes back as unfavorable.

If you have symptoms and an antigen test comes back negative, it might mean that you don’t have COVID-19 or that the virus hasn’t reached a level at which it’s detectable.

The only way to know is by getting another test after another week or two when more antibodies will have developed in response to the virus.

You can do an antigen test during a physical examination and even do them at home. One example of an antigen test you can do at home is the indicaid covid test.


The second test, called a NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test), uses a sample of the patient’s blood or other bodily fluid to detect the presence of an infectious agent.

The sample is then analyzed to determine if it contains enough of the virus or other pathogen to constitute a positive result or if you need more testing.

These PCR-based tests are typically carried out in a laboratory. Therefore, they are usually the most reliable tests for people who have or do not have symptoms.

These tests detect viral genetic material, which can remain in your body for up to 90 days after a positive test result. As a result, if you have tested positive in the last 90 days, you should not use a NAAT.

How does it work

The first step in a NAAT is to take samples from patients and run them through a lysis buffer solution. This solution helps break apart cells so that you can extract their genetic material.

Next, they add primers to the sample complementary to specific virus proteins and enzymes like polymerases.

Then, they add nucleotides that act as substrates for these enzymes to make more copies of your target genes and any defective ones.

Lastly, once all are together, they run through an instrument called a thermal cycler which heats up and cools down repeatedly at precise temperatures to help replicate all the different viruses in a patient’s sample.

How To Interpret the Results

If your COVID-19 test result is Positive, the virus was detected, and you are infected. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Isolate yourself and take precautions, such as wearing a high-quality mask. This will keep others from becoming infected.
  2. Inform anyone you have recently had contact with that they may have been exposed.
  3. Keep track of your symptoms. Seek emergency care right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
  4. Contact a healthcare provider, community health center, or pharmacy to learn about possible treatment options. Effective treatment must start within a few days of the onset of symptoms.
  5. You are more likely to become very ill if you are an older adult or have an underlying medical condition. However, you may be able to receive treatment.

If your COVID-19 test result is Negative, the virus was not detected, but it does not rule out the possibility of infection. If you used an antigen test, follow the FDA’s recommendations for repeat testing.

If you have the following symptoms, you could have COVID-19, but if you got tested before the virus was detectable, you could suffer from another illness.

  1. Take general public health precautions to avoid infecting others.
  2. Consult a healthcare provider if you have any questions about your test results or if your symptoms worsen.
  3. If you do not have symptoms but were exposed, you should follow the recommended precautions.
  4. You can resume normal activities if you do not have symptoms and have not been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
  5. Continue to take precautions to protect yourself and others, including checking for other symptoms. If symptoms appear, have yourself tested again.

Final Thoughts

The article tells you what the COVID-19 test is and why you may need one. It also gives you a list of tests to determine if you suffer from COVID-19.

This article will significantly help anyone looking for an answer related to COVID-19. Or anyone who knows someone who is wondering if they need to be tested or not.

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