The ‘need to know’ if you currently have or possibly have had COVID-19 in the past has crossed the minds of many. The CDC has advocated for an increase in various testing methods to assist in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 with early and accurate disease detection.
For starters, did you know that COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus? When the latest testing methods are discussed, in reality, what they are talking about is a SARS-CoV-2 infection to diagnose someone with or without COVID-19.
3 Testing Options for SARS-CoV-2
There are three main testing options for COVID-19: Molecular NAAT, Antigen testing, and Antibody testing. Below, we discuss these methods in detail and share how FastLabs can help you with your COVID-19 testing as well as how to access your results quickly. As a warning, it is important to note that no matter what test you are given, false readings are possible depending on various factors, including issues with viral loads or antibody levels.
Molecular Nucleic Acid Amplification Test
The gold standard in COVID-19 testing is the Molecular Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). NAAT includes methods like polymerase chain reactions (PCR) and transcription-mediated amplification (TMA) and often these types of tests are used to confirm the results of rapid antigen and antibody tests. Both PCR and TMA are sensitive in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 within the first week of symptoms using a quick and easy nasal or throat swab.
How does science work? NAAT detects the presence of the genetic material (RNA) of a virus and if present an active infection is determined. The SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates quickly in the body making the RNA identification crucial for the success in NAAT samples. Unfortunately, these tests are limited to only active infections and cannot tell us if you previously had COVID-19.
Rapid Antigen Testing
Rapid antigen testing is designed to detect an active infection by a simple nasal swab. An antigen is a molecule (proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, etc) with the capability of eliciting an immune response in the body. Specifically, rapid antigen testing is meant to detect these viral proteins using COVID-19 specific immunoassays and reagents. Like with any test, the clinical performance of antigen testing depends largely on the circumstances in which they are used. For example, once the infection is gone, the antigens in the body disappear.
The Antibody test is the easiest and most convenient, requiring only a finger prick. It works by detecting the antibodies developed in the body in response to SARS-CoV-2. This test can indicate whether or not you had COVID-19 in the past and developed an immune response but is not used to test for an active case. Antibodies are present in the body 7 to 14 days after symptom onset or 15 to 20 days after initial exposure. Specifically, the IgM is the first antibody developed in response to the virus, followed by IgG.
Are You Curious About Your COVID-19 Status?
Not sure which test is the right option for you? Do you need to get tested for a specific reason? At FastLabs, we are dedicated to helping you make the right decision for your health. As we enter this new normal, our trained team is happy to assist you with your testing needs. Specifically, our MD RV is designed with your safety in mind and offers the perfect setting to get fast, accurate testing for you and the ones from the comfort of your car. Make your appointment today at FastLabsMed.com.