If you have gone through COVID-19 testing, especially early in the pandemic, you may have received a PCR test. You also probably got tested without much insight into what PCR means, and how this test can confirm if you have COVID-19 or not. Let’s examine what PCR stands for in common terms, as well as the 4 steps of this test, and how you can get COVID-19 PCR tests back quickly.
PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. This refers to how the test detects whether or not a patient is positive for COVID-19.
Polymerase is an enzyme that occurs naturally in your body. This enzyme helps copy your RNA and DNA inside your cells so the cells can divide. Since polymerase is essential to replicating genetic material, it’s also a great tool for testing small samples of mucus or saliva to see if the genetic material of COVID-19 is present. That’s because when the chain reaction in the test is triggered, the polymerase can turn even a small amount of COVID-19’s genetic material into a detectable test result.
PCR tests for COVID-19, as well as other viruses like the flu, take place over a four-step process.
These four steps in the PCR testing process may vary slightly. This process is also dependent on if the genetic sequence of the virus is known.
For instance, if a patient is infected with a new COVID-19 variant that has an unfamiliar genetic sequence, the test may come back negative or inconclusive. So when you go get tested for COVID-19, you aren’t just protecting your own health—you are also protecting others through the information your sample gives to researchers about mutations and new strains of the virus.
For decades, BioCollections Worldwide has been a trusted international laboratory for all types of infectious disease testing. When COVID-19 emerged as a threat to global public health, we sprang into action and were the first laboratory in the United States to have our PCR test approved for emergency use. Because of our vast experience testing for infectious diseases, we are proudly delivering PCR test results back to our patients in an average of 12-24 hours. Even if you need group testing or on-site testing, we can deliver reliable COVID-19 test results you need to carry on life with peace of mind. Check our lab locations to see if we can accommodate you today for walk-in PCR testing, or reach out to us about group testing rates and services.