Get the Right COVID-19 Test

Learn how different tests help in fighting against COVID-19 and when they should be used.

Test Types

Types of COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

Using the proper test at the right time can save time and resources on your part while helping keep everyone around you safe. SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 is detected using two types of diagnostic testing: Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and rapid antigen test. PCR and antigen tests accurately show active infections,
but their uses may vary from different conditions. Use our guide below to determine the most suitable COVID-19 test for your needs.

Active COVID-19 infections are detected using these diagnostic tests.
What It is nasal swab Rapid Test Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test
PCR testing, also referred to as the gold standard, is a molecular test that accurately shows active infection of SARS-CoV-2 within days of exposure, even for asymptomatic people.
illustration Rapid antigen test Rapid Antigen Test
Rapid antigen test is a quick and reliable alternative to PCR tests, with results usually reported within the day. It identifies protein fragments similar to those of COVID-19.

When to Use
  • Symptomatic people
  • People with direct exposure or close contact to COVID-19 positive patients
  • Asymptomatic people who live or work in a COVID-19 high-risk area
  • Confirmatory test for positive antigen tests
  • Symptomatic people
  • Asymptomatic people in a screening program (contact tracing, workplace and university screening, travel screening)
How It’s Done illustration Free covid testing Illinois Nasal swab, oral swab, or saliva sampling illustration Covid testing Nasal swab or oral swab

What Is the Difference
between a PCR Test and a Rapid Test?

While both tests are designed to detect active COVID-19 infection, they have significant differences in providing results.
Learn more about their dissimilarities in terms of accuracy rate, turnaround time, and process.

PCR

What Is a PCR Test?

PCR testing or molecular testing is the most accurate and reliable testing method for COVID-19.
It identifies the genetic material specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus within days of infection.
Results are provided within 48-72 hours and may take longer when the demand is higher.

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How Does the PCR Test Work?

illustration nose Covid testing site

Sample Collection

The nasopharyngeal swab is the most common method to collect a specimen, but some tests are done with saliva collection. Once the sample is acquired, it will be sent to the lab for analysis.

test tube illustration Covid test

Extraction

Laboratory technologists will extract the genetic material or RNA from the sample, which will show whether the virus’ genes are present or not.

illustration centrifuge PCR Test

PCR

The sample will undergo a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to increase the DNA sample using a PCR machine, special chemicals, and enzymes. One specific chemical will create a fluorescent light if COVID-19’s genetic material is present in the sample.

How Accurate Are PCR Tests?

Unlike rapid tests, PCR results do not require double-checking or confirmatory tests because they are highly accurate.
However, patients infected within 5-7 days before the test yield the most precise results.

PCR Testing: The Gold Standard

PCR, the benchmark technology in many aspects of diagnostic tests, is identified as the gold standard in diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 worldwide. The highest advantage of the PCR test among its counterparts is its accuracy, with its results unlikely to show false positives and negatives. However, its turnaround time is much longer, and it costs more than rapid tests. Therefore, while PCR testing is highly reliable, we would benefit from a combination of tests when there is an outbreak.

Rapid

What Is Rapid Testing?

Antigen testing, sometimes called rapid antigen testing, is a much quicker and cost-efficient method to diagnose COVID-19, mostly within minutes. Unlike PCR tests, rapid tests can be done in doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals. In addition, they do not require a laboratory analysis, which makes the process shorter and faster.

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How Does a Rapid Test Work?

illustration nose Covid testing site

Sample Collection

The patient’s sample is collected through a nasopharyngeal or nasal swab.

illustration swab Rapid Test

Sample Treatment

The sample is then treated with special chemicals that will show the virus’s antigens.

illustration Rapid Test Illinois

Sample Testing

Finally, the treated sample is tested using a testing strip, which will indicate whether the COVID-19 virus antigens are detected.

How Accurate Is a Rapid Test?

Rapid tests are highly reliable when it comes to positive results but are likely to yield false negatives because of their lower sensitivity
compared to molecular tests. Therefore, most rapid test results are usually followed by a PCR test for validation.

Antigen Testing

Rapid Antigen Testing: A Fast First Step

Rapid antigen testing is a fast and easy method to diagnose active COVID-19 infections. With the widespread transmission of different COVID-19 variants
and the high number of unvaccinated individuals, rapid testing is crucial in keeping every community safe from the virus.

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Reliable

A trusted test for diagnosing COVID-19 infections that are validated by a PCR test if necessary. With its quick turnaround time, it is an effective tool for detecting the virus early and preventing outbreaks in communities.

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Available

An accessible and more affordable option that even non-medical professionals can perform. Rapid antigen self-test kits have become widely available in pharmacies in the country.

swab PCR Test Illinois in bartlett

Actionable

A fast and accurate tool for frequent screening in different places. With its rapid results, it allows early detection for asymptomatic people in the workplace and school settings for enhanced protection from COVID-19.

PCR and rapid testing are used globally for various purposes, including back-to-school and back-to-office requirements, as well as local and international travels. Dynamic Diagnostics offers free COVID-19 business testing for all industries and business sizes, from small companies to large corporations. We also provide free COVID-19 individual testing for the safety and wellness of households and communities. There are no hidden charges or numerous requirements to get your free COVID-19 tests.

Dynamic Diagnostics adheres to the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) health and sanitation protocols and follows their guidance for COVID-19 testing. We only use FDA-authorized COVID-19 test kits and work with CLIA-certified laboratories to ensure the accuracy and legitimacy of our test results. Furthermore, Dynamic Diagnostics strictly complies with the HIPAA Privacy Rule to safeguard the personal information of our clients.