What is the best type of COVID-19 test?

Humanity is currently facing unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic – addressing threats for safety and livelihood.

The world is left unprepared for readying substantial relief and solutions from the pandemic. 

Not long after the novel coronavirus – causing COVID-19, first discovered in Wuhan, China, was declared a pandemic, it has quickly spread worldwide. Positive cases escalated from thousands to millions which caused people to undergo disruption of lifestyle, work, and massive economic recession. 

Among the most devastating impacts of the pandemic is the immense burden on healthcare, health professionals, and even security personnel. While the world currently struggles with finding a solution to ending the pandemic, the currently viable option is to mitigate and control the outbreak.

Despite the challenges people are left to deal with, many have nevertheless scrambled to respond to the pandemic even without emergency plans to limit the virus's spread.

Ending this pandemic would mean individual and collective responsibility, which people should share the strong sentiment. In view of this, people are educated with awareness and preventative measures relating to the virus. 

From wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding large gatherings, individuals can follow public health practices that prevent them from contracting the virus. Aside from those, the best possible way to prevent an outbreak is covid testing. 

COVID-19 testing is significantly important, as seen in various countries, especially South Korea – a model to emulate which have done an excellent job at controlling the virus. Behind their strategy is conducting an extensive and well-organized testing program combined with isolating infected people and putting in quarantine people who have direct contact with positive individuals.

Many have perhaps heard PCR swab tests throughout the pandemic and the immediate need to develop rapid and accurate testing made available worldwide. As part of the effort, government authorities implement testing and prevention strategies for areas with the highest infection rates, with scientists and health care professionals working to establish programs ensuring accessibility for reliable testing.

While, for some reason, other countries have yet to require mandatory testing, especially for travelers and workers, countries with high positive cases require people to take the COVID-19 test. Below are some of the benefits of testing. 

  • Testing can either tell if a person is with active infection or has been infected before. Regardless of the results, testing can help save lives. Early determining a positive case allows individuals to isolate and reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others and getting immediate care to reduce the severity of the disease. On the other hand, a negative case does not mean taking precautions is not necessary. Hence, people who tested negative still need to follow preventative measures that greatly contribute to stopping the pandemic.
  • Some areas burdened by the pandemic include essential workers who cannot work at home, heightening the importance of Workplace Testing. Additionally, multi-generational living situations and other house arrangements can allow the virus to spread quickly. Testing, particularly for asymptomatic individuals, is the key to interrupting the fast spread.
  • Early in the pandemic, testing kits and supplies are limited, resulting in delays. Fortunately, new developments made testing accessible and available. Therefore, testing is done easily and quickly, which helps alert people if individuals tested positive and minimize the virus's risks.

People are encouraged to look up up-to-date information from trusted sources about the virus, as staying informed is essential. However, there is still confusion about COVID-19 testing, particularly which test to get and which among the types is the best. 

A diagnostic test can determine whether an individual has an active or past COVID-19 infection, and there are two kinds of diagnostic tests: the molecular and Rapid antigen test. 

RT-PCR COVID-19 Tests

Molecular tests, more known as the PCR test, are designed to identify the virus's genetic material and tell whether an individual has an active infection. 

It can even detect fragments of the virus even when an individual is no longer infected. Until now, it is considered as the test that can produce the most accurate results. However, getting the results means waiting for days, depending on the lab and specific test. 

There are different ways to collect a sample from a PCR test: inside the nose using a nasopharyngeal swab, throat, or saliva. The high or deep nasal swab test is the most known and considered the gold standard in conducting the test. 

This test is also what private testing providers administer for day 2 and 8 testing for travellers arriving from countries under the green and amber countries of the UK’s traffic light system.

Rapid Antigen Test

The Rapid Antigen Test diagnostic test can produce rapid results. This test is designed to detect a specific protein that is part of the coronavirus and is most effective for identifying individuals at or near peak infection – mostly used for hospital or emergency settings. Samples using this test are collected via nasal cavity swabs. 

While it is relatively faster than the PCR test, it is not always accurate. False positives may happen as antigen tests can likely miss an active coronavirus infection. Hence, many health care professionals still advise people to take a molecular test for result accuracy.

Choosing a COVID-19 Test

Before choosing one, it is still best to consult with a health care provider that can advise what test you should get. For people experiencing symptoms of the virus, getting one of the two is necessary. Better yet, take both for accurate results. 

Getting an antigen test is an option for people wanting to get immediate results. Should the results show positive infection, it will allow individuals to isolate themselves and receive timely care. 

On the other hand, if the result is negative, getting a molecular test is an option if people want to ensure that they do not have an active infection and if the antigen test provided inaccurate results. It is best to search for a PCR test near me for convenience.

Factors in choosing COVID-19 diagnostic test

  • Cost – If cost is of concern, antigen tests are relatively cheaper than molecular tests. It is also an option to contact Public Health Departments and ask if they offer free tests and what type of diagnostic test is available.
  • Accuracy – Accuracy of the test is the most important consideration for choosing a diagnostic test. If people want to be sure the first time, molecular tests are preferable, requiring a deep-nasal swab test.
  • Speed – If an individual needs immediate results, rapid antigen tests are reliable. Some health centers may offer results while the person tested waits as results can be available to get in less than 30 minutes. It is essential to note that while rapid tests are faster than molecular tests, it is still less dependable. 
  • Comfort – some might feel intimidated with deep-nasal swab tests, and the saliva and mid-nostril tests are always an option for people. However, both are less accurate and will likely result in false positives or vice versa.

Are you looking for trusted COVID-19 testing providers? Harley Medic International offers private London PCR Tests, Antigen tests, and Fit to Fly COVID test. Contact them through their email at info@harleymedic.co.uk or call them at 0330 390 3666 for more questions about Covid Testing. 

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