There are two types of tests available for COVID-19: Viral tests and Antibody tests.
The tests can be collected through a variety of ways which include nasal swab, saliva test or blood test.
- Helps to tell if you have an infection currently.
- Consider a viral test if:
- You have symptoms of COVID-19.
- You had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone who has COVID-19
- You have participated in an activity that may put you at higher risk for COVID-19
- Travel in public transportation including airplane travel
- Attended large gathering of people (indoor or outdoor)
- Before having a medical procedure or surgery done at a medical facility
- Not everyone needs to be tested. Consult with your healthcare provider.
- If you do get tested, you should quarantine at home while waiting for your test results to protect others in case you do have COVID-19. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider or a public health professional.
- The test is done by a nasal swab or a saliva test.
- If your viral test result is POSITIVE:
- Isolate at home to protect others from getting sick.
- Consult your healthcare provider to manage your symptoms and to decide when to stop isolating.
- If your viral test result is NEGATIVE:
- You probably do not have COVID-19 at the time you were tested.
- Remember that tests are NOT perfect. Sometimes, you test result may be negative even though you have COVID-19.
- Therefore, it’s important to always discuss your test results and your specific situation with your healthcare provider.
- There are 2 types of viral tests available:
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs)/ PCR test
- Detects the virus’s genetic material.
- Generally more accurate than other tests.
- Can take several days to process.
- Rapid NAAT/PCR tests are available in some hospitals that can give you results within 45-60 min.
- Detects viral protein.
- Generally not as sensitive as NAATs/ PCR tests.
- Rapid Antigen tests are more widely available. These rapid tests can give you results within 15-20 min. However, they have higher rate of false positives which means that sometimes the results can be negative even though you have COVID-19.
- Helps to tell you if you had an infection in the past.
- Looks for antibodies in your blood to determine if you had an infection in the past.
- Antibodies are proteins created by your immune system soon after you have been infected or vaccinated.
- Antibodies help you fight infections and can protect you from getting that disease again. The amount of time that antibodies protect you is different for each disease and each person.
- Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose current COVID-19 infection.
- Your test may be positive for antibodies even if you never had symptoms of COVID-19. Many people who get COVID-19 do not show any symptoms (asymptomatic infection).
- Always discuss your results with your health care provider so that they can help you correctly interpret your results and guide you on the next steps.
- If your antibody test result is POSITIVE:
- A positive test result shows that you may have antibodies from a previous infection with COVID-19.
- Sometimes the test can be positive because you had a previous infection with a different virus from the same family as COVID-19 (the family of Coronaviruses).
- At this time, we do not know how long the protection from the antibodies last. Therefore, it’s important to continue to protect yourself and others by following all COVID-19 precautions such as masking, social distancing and washing your hands even if your antibody test is positive.
- If your antibody test result is NEGATIVE:
- You may not have ever had COVID-19.
- You could have a current infection or been recently infected.
- It can take 1-3 weeks after the infection for your body to develop antibodies. Therefore, it could be too early in the disease process for the test to detect antibodies in your blood.
- Some people may not ever develop antibodies even though they had COVID-19 in the past.
Do I need to go the hospital, health care provider or to the testing site in order to get tested?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized viral tests that let you collect either a nasal swab or a saliva at home. However, you will still need to send your sample to a laboratory for analysis. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-first-test-patient-home-sample-collection
Once patients’ self-swab to collect their nasal sample, they mail their sample, in an insulated package, to a LabCorp lab for testing. LabCorp intends to make the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kits available to consumers in most states, with a doctor’s order, in the coming weeks. The LabCorp home self-collection kit includes a specific Q-tip-style cotton swab for patients to use to collect their sample.
It would take 48 hours to 2 weeks to get your results back.