Is the COVID-19 PCR test the most accurate available?

Posted by Jack on December 15, 2022
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    If you're concerned about a possible COVID-19 infection, it's important to know that there are multiple options available for testing. The most common method is the ELISA test, which measures the level of antibodies in a person's blood. But this can be inaccurate because some people have low antibody levels even if they've been infected with COVID-19. That's where PCR comes in: It uses DNA amplification to identify viruses and bacteria from within your body — including COVID-19. Not only does this provide more accurate results, but PCR also gives doctors more information on how well your immune system responds to infections like COVID-19.

    A PCR test is done using a DNA amplification method, not antibody detection like an ELISA-based test.

    PCR and ELISA

    PCR is a DNA amplification method that uses enzymes to copy a sample of one strand of DNA, called the template. The amplified product is then used in diagnostic tests. An ELISA test, on the other hand, uses antibodies attached to a dye to detect whether your blood contains antibodies against certain types of viruses (like dengue or Zika). Antibodies are proteins that can bind directly to virus proteins, so they're much more specific than PCR and can only be used for detecting viral infections with known markers. This means that an ELISA isn't as sensitive as PCR and may need multiple samples before it gives accurate results. If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 virus infection—fever, cough, conjunctivitis—you should get treatment right away rather than waiting for an accurate test result!

    PCR tests have a high sensitivity of approximately 90%.

    The COVID-19 PCR test has an extremely high sensitivity of approximately 90%. This means that, for the most part, if you have the virus and take a PCR test, it will be positive.

    It can detect one copy of the virus if present at very low levels in your blood or other samples. By contrast, antibody tests have a lower sensitivity of approximately 70%. This means they may not be as accurate in detecting an infection that's new or very early on in its development. If this is what you're looking for (as opposed to being able to confirm whether or not you do have an active infection), then consider taking a COVID-19 PCR test instead!

    The PCR process is only the first step in a testing workflow.

    If you’re like most people, you don't have a PhD in molecular biology. If you did, you probably wouldn't be reading this article at all…you'd be working as a consultant for the CDC or NIH or some other agency that has the ability to research these things.

    But since we're not all geniuses (yet) let's talk about what PCR means for those of us with average intelligence levels. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction and it's used to detect viral DNA or RNA strands in biological samples like blood, stool and saliva. The PCR process is only the first step in a testing workflow, however; if you're concerned about COVID-19 and want to get tested for it at home with your own kit from one of several companies offering such products online (see our article on how to do this), make sure that your kit comes with instructions on how to use both enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests as well as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR).

    Replication is key to a positive result from the PCR test.

    • Replication is the process of making multiple copies of DNA.
    • This is a key part of the PCR test, and it's what allows a positive result to be obtained even if there are only a few virus particles present in your sample. Without replication, no amount of amplification can bring up enough RNA or DNA to allow you to detect the virus with PCR.
    • In order for replication to occur successfully, there must be enough primers available to bind with RNA or DNA template molecules on either end. If this doesn't happen—and it doesn't always—the test will fail (you'll get an "inconclusive" result).

    Samples need to be handled correctly on both sides of the testing process.

    The most accurate test for COVID-19 is a PCR test, but even then, it's not 100% foolproof. Samples must be collected and transported properly to the laboratory where they will be tested. They need to be handled in a laboratory with strict quality control measures to ensure that they are not contaminated. The samples must also be processed correctly so that there's no chance of cross contamination between tests or between different labs handling similar samples at the same time. And finally, any testing needs to happen under the care of trained professionals who know what they're doing so that any errors can be caught early on before they become too big to fix later on down the line.

    Yes, the PCR test is one of the most accurate COVID-19 tests available right now.

    Yes, the PCR test is one of the most accurate COVID-19 tests available right now. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that it's a better indicator of recent infection than an ELISA or serological test.

    The reason for this is that the PCR test can detect viral RNA in your blood much earlier than standard tests, which detect antibodies produced by your body after a person has been infected with COVID-19.

    This is important because it means you could be infected with COVID-19 but not know about it yet—and if you don't know about it, then you won't be able to take preventative measures like washing your hands regularly or staying home from work when sick.


    The COVID-19 PCR test is a very accurate test for detecting the presence of the virus in human blood. It is quick and easy to perform, meaning that it can be run on site at any healthcare facility or lab. However, this test does not give you any indication of how much virus there may be in your system. If you have been exposed to the disease but don't have symptoms yet then perhaps this test isn't right for you because it won't help determine if any damage has already been done by the time it comes back negative or positive for COVID-19.

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