The most common coronavirus test is the molecular RT-PCR test – often referred to simply as a "swab test" – that looks for genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your nose or throat. RT-PCR tests are more sensitive than other types of coronavirus tests, such as antigen or antibody tests, meaning they're more likely to find the virus if you're infected. PCR tests are recommended as a diagnostic tool, detecting even trace amounts of the virus and producing a negative result when no virus is detected. According to the CDC and other sources, RT-PCR tests can take any time between 1 hour and 5 days, with the typical turnaround time being 24 hours."
The swab test takes about one hour and does not involve any needles or blood collection. You will be asked to rinse your mouth with water and then allow a technician to gently swab inside your nose with a cotton tip applicator. The sample is then sent to our lab from which it can take up to 3 days for results to be available.
RT-PCR tests are more sensitive than other types of coronavirus tests, such as antigen or antibody tests, meaning they're more likely to find the virus if you're infected.
Antigen and antibody tests look for antibodies in your blood that are produced by the body in response to the virus. They can only detect these antibodies when there's enough of them present in your system for detection. To put it another way: if you have a very low viral load (few viruses), an antigen or antibody test may not be able to pick up on it. But if there's enough virus present and replicating within cells in your body, then it will trigger signs of infection like fever and muscle aches—and those signs will appear whether or not an antigen/antibody test is administered right away after symptoms start showing up.
RT PCR tests look directly for the actual corona virus itself rather than searching for its antibodies; since they're more sensitive, they can detect low levels of virus even when they would otherwise remain undetectable using other methods like antigen/antibody testing alone!
PCR tests are recommended as a diagnostic tool, detecting even trace amounts of the virus and producing a negative result when no virus is detected. These tests are sensitive, specific and can be used to detect viral RNA (whether or not you have active symptoms).
There are several ways RT-PCR can be used:
PCR tests are often done in a lab by a specialist. When you submit your sample and get an RT PCR, you will likely have to wait anywhere from 1 hour to 5 days (or longer) for your results to come back.
The typical turnaround time is 24 hours. However, there are many factors that can alter the speed at which this process takes place. For example:
There may be some variation by day of week because labs are less staffed over the weekend and holidays. Some labs have 24/7 service, but others have limited service on weekends and holidays. Some labs have a limited service during the week, which means they might not be able to process your sample as quickly.
While we wait for faster tests to be developed, it helps to know how long you need to wait and what factors might be affecting the timing of your results.
You can check the status of your test online at https://www.covidtest.com/status/
If you have a positive result, you will be contacted within 24 hours with further instructions on how to proceed. If you have a negative result, we will contact you within 5 days to discuss your options with you.
We hope this information has been helpful for you. If there are still questions we can answer, please feel free to contact us so that we can continue to provide the resources you need.