PCR Test vs Antigen Test

Over time, the importance of reliable, accessible testing to screen for the disease has become increasingly apparent. Effective methods to detect whether you are infected with COVID-19 are being developed all the time. As a general rule, PCR tests and antigen tests stand out. Both tests use different kinds of samples to search for different hallmarks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Both tests also require a swab from the back of your nose or throat as a sample and cannot deduce whether you are contagious if positive but that’s where the similarities end.

Below are a few things to know about the PCR and Antigen test;

  1. PCR and antigen tests are two of the most popular Covid19 test which works differently

The antigen tests examine for proteins on the body of the virus to verify the existence of the pathogen and the PCR tests look for genetic material known as RNA. The RNA instructs the virus to make these proteins.  

The similarity, however, is that both tests require a swab from the back of the patient’s nose or throat as a sample and would not determine whether they are contagious if positive.

The process for the PCR test involves;

  1. The sample  taken from the swap is sent to a lab where it is heated and cooled
  2. Special reagents convert the virus’s RNA into DNA and make millions of copies of the DNA that allows for the identification of the organism. This requires sophisticated lab equipment and technicians,
  3. The results are almost 100% accurate in spotting infected people when there is a virus on the swab.

The process for the  antigen tests involves;

1. This works by mixing the sample with a solution that unleashes specific viral proteins.

2. The combination is applied to a paper strip that contains a bespoke antibody optimized to bind these proteins if they are present.

 3. Just like the home pregnancy test, the result from this test is reflected as a band on the paper strip.

4. The process doesn’t require a lab and can be done in up to 30 minutes, but it’s far more prone to false-negative results if a person has low amounts of the virus in their body.

  B. Sensitivity and specificity are measures of the test’s usefulness

PCR tests are considered gold standard tests because they are highly sensitive and highly specific. A highly sensitive test has a low false-negative rate but tends to produce false positives if its specificity is not up to scratch and a highly specific test runs a risk of false negatives if the test’s sensitivity is poor, but will generally have a low false-positive rate.

C. We can help you carry out a 15 seconds Antigen Test or Same Day PCR Swab test at our Leicester clinic

By registering for our UKAS approved PCR Swab Test, Get quick results when you test for Coronavirus with our Same day PCR Swab test.

Our 15 minutes Antigen test on the other hand is currently used by governments globally, professional sports teams, film production companies, and other organizations who need to know if their members have been infected with Coronavirus because it is more than 97% accurate.

To get tested, Book your PCR Swab Test  or 15 minutes Antigen test here

Finally, if you would like to check whether the illness you had in the past was caused by Covid-19, then you need to take our Phlebotomy Antibody Test. This IgG & IgM antibody test has reportedly shown 99% sensitivity if taken more than 7 days after a COVID-19 illness.

Book here

Test result provided by PHE/CQC approved UKAS accredited, ISO 15189 2012 Laboratory.
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