Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been an influx of ways to find out whether you are infected with the virus. Here are ways of testing for COVID-19 infection and the best time to use the different types of Covid tests.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test Nasal Swab

The COVID-19 PCR test is carried out by inserting a nasopharyngeal swab into the nostrils of an individual and collecting a specimen from the back of the nose. Some labs use samples collected from the saliva, allowing the patient to spit into a tube.

PCR test detects the presence of a virus if you have it at the time of testing. It can detect bits of the virus even after your infection is over.

The COVID 19 test looks for Ribonucleic acid (RNA) of SARS-COV-2 ( the virus that generates COVID-19). PCR can amplify small amounts of RNA from samples into DNA, which is then duplicated until SARS-CoV-2 is detected – only if present.

The Right Time to Use it

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms or believe that you have been exposed to someone infected and have tested positive for the virus, you need to take the test.

Is it Timely and Accurate?

The test result is guaranteed within 24-72 hours, depending on the laboratory used. PCR is highly rated when it comes to COVID 19 testing. 

At-Home Nasal Swab With Lab-Based PCR Test

This test is not different from the one carried out at the health care facilities. The only difference is that you take the swabs by yourself during this test and send the samples to the laboratory for analysis.

The Right Time to Use It

You can carry out this test if you think you have been exposed to or experiencing COVID 19 symptoms. It is convenient, especially when you do not want to risk exposing more people or children who are not old enough to be vaccinated

Is it Timely and Accurate? 

The test usually takes 2-4 days to get results. It is a PCR test carried out in a lab making it more accurate than other antigen tests done at home.

Saliva PCR Test

It is similar to tests done in health care facilities. However, you collect the saliva sample and send it to your preferred laboratory for analysis. Saliva is usable for PCR testing. It is easier and more comfortable to collect a saliva sample from a patient than a nostril swab. 

The Right Time to Use It

Use it whenever you feel exposed, or you are experiencing symptoms of the virus. Try this type of testing if you have underage children who cannot be vaccinated against the virus and don’t want to infect more people. 

Is it Timely and Accurate? 

Most tests are carried out at home and need to be mailed out. It usually takes 2-4 days for results. The test is a PCR test; therefore, it is more accurate than other antigen home tests.

Rapid At-Home Antigen Test

This antigen test can detect specific viral proteins in the nasal area. You get the sample by using a nasal swab.

The Right Time to Use It

This COVID test comes highly recommended as an emergency test to avoid further spread of current infection and should be done as soon as COVID 19 symptoms manifest or there is a suspicion of exposure. This testing method reduces the risk of you spreading the virus to children who are not eligible for vaccines or those more vulnerable to severe illness.

Is it Timely and Accurate? 

These tests are readily available in facilities that deal with the test kits. They can be less expensive compared to other PCR tests. It roughly takes at most 20 minutes or less to get results. 

The main challenge is that these types of COVID tests may be susceptible to false-negative results. It is highly advisable to continue wearing a mask even if your results show a negative test, especially around those not vaccinated or more vulnerable. You also need to confirm with a PCR test at your healthcare provider to be sure.

The PCR test done in a health facility is vital for tracking by public health care officials and helps you get the required health care.