Since March, COVID-19 testing has made significant progress. In just a few months, experts have gained sufficient knowledge of this virus to detect its existence with a simple test. With a variety of testing alternatives accessible, numerous doubts are raising regarding the accuracy of the tests and even the necessity of obtaining a COVID -19 test.
To protect yourself and your loved ones against the coronavirus, you must know when it is suitable to have a COVID test. Dr. McKinnon imparts his knowledge and addresses some frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing:
What COVID Test Types Are Available?
We can divide the COVID -19 test into two distinct categories: diagnostic tests and antibody tests.
There are two distinct diagnostic tests to formally diagnose COVID-19: molecular testing and antigen testing.
Molecular testing (also called PCR or RNA tests). These tests require a swab of mucus from deep within the nose or the back of the throat. The sample is then delivered to a laboratory, where it is analyzed for the virus’s unique genetic material. Molecular assays are the most precise method for detecting COVID-19. However, due to the necessity of laboratory evaluation, it may take longer to receive test results.
Antigen testing (also called rapid testing). Rapid testing employs a similar swabbing procedure as the molecular test, but it does not require any lab or laboratory equipment. It implies that you will receive your results sooner. If you visit drive-thru testing locations, you are more likely to receive rapid testing. Although these tests are highly accurate in identifying COVID antigens, it may take some time for COVID antigens to show up in your system. It means it is possible that you can get the COVID infection while receiving a negative quick antigen test result.
It is essential to understand the limitations of quick testing. For instance, if you contact a person who tests positive for COVID and decides to take a quick test a few days later, the result may be negative because the COVID antigens have not yet appeared in your body. A few days later, you may develop COVID symptoms and have a positive test result. You risk exposing people to the virus if you believe you are immune after receiving a negative initial test result.
The antibody test is a blood examination for COVID antibodies.
When Should You Get a COVID -19 test?
Unfortunately, there has been much dispute on when it is appropriate to do a COVID -19 test, and each circumstance is unique.
It depends on your specific situation and symptoms. And there is a difference in how you should approach testing if you have been exposed to the virus vs. if you are exhibiting symptoms.
If Exposed To A COVID Carrier
If you were exposed to a person who tested positive, you should take the following precautions:
Quarantine. Consider the scenario as though you had the infection. No public appearances for 10-14 days. The length of your quarantine will depend on when you are tested and local health regulations. Isolate yourself from the other members of your household.
Observe your symptoms. COVID symptoms will not manifest immediately following interaction with an infected individual. It may take a few days for symptoms to manifest. If you experience COVID symptoms, you may want to get checked.
If You Have COVID Symptoms,
If you acquire symptoms of the coronavirus after being exposed to a positive test subject, you should have a COVID -19 test. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to see if a test is essential if you acquire symptoms but are unaware of coming into touch with a person with COVID.
COVID testing can reassure persons exposed to a COVID carrier or are exhibiting symptoms, but it should not be abused. It is inappropriate to provide a test in the following situations:
Each time you leave your home. There is a negligible chance of contracting the virus at a supermarket or restaurant. Adhere to these best procedures while bringing in food or packages.
As an excuse, a negative test result. A negative test result is merely a snapshot in time and does not indicate that it is safe to assemble in big groups, attend parties, travel, or abandon masks and social distance. With the approaching holiday season, this year’s celebrations should be unusual while adhering to COVID -19 test requirements.
You have not been exposed to an individual carrying the virus. Don’t obtain a test only to get a test. As the number of cases increases nationwide, there is a growing demand for symptomatic testing people. There are currently delays in delivering test results to patients in need. If there is little to no likelihood of being exposed to the virus, testing should be reserved for those exposed or exhibiting symptoms.
What Do the Results of My COVID Test Mean?
As the number of cases increases, testing sites become increasingly crowded. It indicates that test result delays are extremely common. If you are awaiting test results, act as if you have been diagnosed with COVID.
If you receive a positive test result for COVID -19 test, there is no need for a second test to confirm. All diagnostic tests accurately detect the virus, and you should isolate yourself until your physician gives the all-clear.
Suppose you have COVID symptoms and receive a negative quick test result. In that case, your physician may request a molecular test to validate the results and continue isolating you while testing determines whether you have COVID-19.