Covid PCR (polymerase chain reaction tests) tests utilize a swab (typically in the nose or throat) or collect a saliva sample, and send a sample to a laboratory to get tested. Since PCR tests collect some genetic material, they are quite accurate when performed by a healthcare professional. There is a version of the PCR test that is analyzed on the testing site and not in a lab, which is less accurate.
Rapid tests, or antigen tests, also require a nose or throat swab. But, they look for proteins instead of genetic material. This makes them much faster, with results in a matter of minutes. But, they are considerably less accurate, and sometimes produce false negatives.
A Harvard study placed PCR test false negative rates between 2% and 29%, and multiple studies describe antigen test false negative rates as high as 50%. No single test is completely accurate, and test accuracy depends on numerous factors including whether or not you are symptomatic and how long after exposure you take the test. Still, tests are a valuable resource when attempting to slow this pandemic, and they greatly decrease transmission when asymptomatic carriers realize they have Covid so know to quarantine.
At Bethany Medical Clinic, we provide high accuracy throat swab PCR tests that are usually covered entirely by insurance. Results can be available within 48 hours for a time-sensitive need like international travel, and are typically available within 3 days.
Make an appointment today: https://app.nexhealth.com/appt/bethany