Over the course of the Covid-19 crisis, the importance of reliable, accessible testing to screen for the disease has become increasingly necessary. Tests for Covid-19 can be divided into antigen or antibody tests, both of which use different kinds of samples to search for different hallmarks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In this blog, we take a closer look at the differences between the antigen PCR Tests and Immune Antibody Covid-19 testing.
What are the different types of Covid-19 tests?
PCR tests (Polymerase Chain Reaction) are sent to a lab to diagnose the disease
Lateral flow tests (LFTs) can diagnose Covid-19 on the spot but aren’t as accurate as PCR tests
Antibody tests (or Immune tests) can’t diagnose active infection, but they can help to tell if a person has immunity to Covid-19
What is PCR testing?
PCR Rapid Covid Tests are antigen tests used to directly screen for the presence of viral RNA and determine whether or not someone has the virus very early on in their illness. False negatives can occur up to 30% of the time with PCR tests, meaning they’re more useful for confirming the presence of infection than giving a patient the all-clear. However, these types of Covid-19 PCR tests need to be sent away for results.
Lateral Flow Tests are similar to PCR tests, in that they’re both antigen tests, designed to pick up active Covid-19 infection rather than antibodies to the disease. The major benefit of LFTs over PCRs is that they do not need to be sent away for confirmation, and instead provide results within 15 to 30 minutes. However, what they gain in speed they sacrifice in accuracy.
What is Immune Antibody testing?
An Antibody Test (or Immune Test) can detect if a person has been previously infected with COVID-19 in the past and carries the antibodies. It tells you who’s been infected and who should be immune to the virus, but not who currently has COVID-19.
Unlike PCR tests, which commonly use swabs to detect Covid-19, blood samples are usually used for antibody tests. This is because there will be a very small amount of Covid-19 circulating in the blood compared to the respiratory tract, but a significant and measurable antibody present in the blood following infection.
At West Chemist pharmacy, we provide PCR swab testing service in Northampton as well as antibody testing. Our PCR swab testing service will give you next-day results for your PCR test in our Northampton branch.