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What is the PCR COVID test?

Access to effective testing has become an integral part of isolating and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Many people have already taken COVID-19 PCR tests, whether it was to confirm symptoms or pre-screen for a gathering, and have relied on the results to make key decisions for recovery and social interactions. These tests enable the population to keep an eye on active case trends, and determine the best routes forward to further decrease the spread of COVID-19. 

What are the different types of COVID-19 testing and how are they conducted? What is the pcr covid test? What is the purpose of COVID19 PCR tests? Does PCR testing take a long time to process? Are rapid tests accurate? Let’s take a look at how PCR testing is performed.

What is the purpose of COVID19 PCR tests?

The PCR COVID test is considered the most reliable and accurate test for diagnosing COVID-19. It’s also the most commonly used form of testing. What is the PCR COVID test meaning? ‘PCR’ is an acronym for polymerase chain reaction. The PCR test exists to detect living organisms within a sample through a nasopharyngeal swab (commonly known as a nose swab). PCR tests can be performed to detect a variety of other diseases, like rhinovirus, influenza, adenovirus, and more.

How is the PCR test performed?

If you’ve been tested for COVID-19 already, chances are you’ve already taken a PCR test! This is because it is the most common and accurate test available. The PCR test is administered by swabbing deep into the nasal cavity to collect genetic material from the nasal floor, which is then tested for COVID-19 organisms. If a tested party is infected at the time of the test, the test will be able to identify any known organisms of the disease.

A medical professional administering the test will insert a long swab into the nasal cavity of an upright individual until the swab reaches the nasopharynx, which is located at a perpendicular position at the end of the nasal cavity. The administrator will rotate the swab 2-3 times to ensure that the swab has collected enough genetic material for testing. Once collected, the test is immediately placed within a test tube and sent off to a lab to be tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus known to cause COVID-19.

PCR test result time duration

Because testing has to occur in a lab, the standard turnaround time can vary. This is generally due to fluctuations in inbound test samples, available testing resources and staff, and more. For the most part, the average PCR test result time duration is between 24-72 hours.

PCR COVID test vs. rapid test

Many individuals who need to be tested for COVID-19 may not know which test type is the best. Because timing is important when making key decisions about healthcare, treatment, and social interactions, many individuals may look at rapid tests as a solution for immediate results. What is the difference between pcr covid test vs rapid test? Rapid tests are administered in the same way as PCR tests, through nasopharyngeal swabs that collect genetic material, but are intended to locate specific proteins or antigens associated with COVID-19. Rapid tests are faster than PCR, but they tend to have a lower accuracy rate and provide more false negatives and false positives. If you’ve ever been required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 result, you probably were required to show PCR test results.

Which COVID-19 test should I take?

This is a common question, and one with a simple answer:

If you want accurate results, then the PCR COVID-19 test is the best. It is more accurate and reliable, as it can detect the specific virus organisms that cause COVID-19, the SARS-CoV-2. Because the test is administered the same way, there is no advantage to performing the rapid test other than getting quicker results. For individuals who have received a positive rapid test result, we recommend confirming with a PCR test!

Where can you get a PCR test? BioCollections Worldwide provides high quality and trusted COVID-19 testing that can provide accurate answers—often in just 12 hours or less.

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One thought on “What is the PCR COVID test?

  1. Strictly speaking, PCR is not really used to detect living organisms, just sequences of nucleic acids. You MIGHT be able to INFER that something in the sample HAD BEEN living. If you want to test for bacteria, unless things have radically changed, the results won’t tell you whether your original sample had live, or dead bacteria, just whether or not you had a bacterial strain. Anything that goes in to the “pot”, to be tested, by replication, is dead, or is almost immediately dead if it somehow survives the trip to it. But, viruses aren’t living organisms anyway. They are infectious items that cause living cells to make copies of the viruses.

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