The resounding recommendation by healthcare officials is to stay home if you are feeling unwell. With the present and lingering COVID-19, many people are concerned that any sort of symptoms they experience that is COVID-like is cause for alarm. With asymptomatic cases being another concern, some people would rather get tested to rule out having the coronavirus altogether. Peace of mind is a good thing to have during this coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 testing can give that to you. What testings are available and which one is right for you?
COVID testing is now widely available for most patients, but a certain kind of test may be more appropriate for some patients than others. There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests available: viral tests and antibody tests. A viral test reveals if you are currently infected with the coronavirus, while an antibody shows if you had a past infection. Decisions about COVID-19 testing are left up to the state and local healthcare officials as well as health care providers, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides guidance regarding who should get tested. Contact your healthcare provider first if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and would like to get tested.
Viral Test for Current COVID-19 Infection
Swab testing helps determine if COVID-19 is active in the patient’s immune system. Viral tests or swab tests check samples from your respiratory system for evidence of a current infection with SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The nasopharyngeal swab test involves inserting a 6-inch long swab, like a long Q-tip, into the cavity between the nose and mouth for 15 seconds and rotating it several times and then repeated on the other side of the nose. The swab is carefully packaged and sent to either an academic, commercial or private lab for testing, a process that takes between 1 and 2 days, while some tests are point-of-care tests, where the results are readily available at the testing site in under an hour. People who should get a viral test are those with symptoms of a lower respiratory tract infection, such as a significant cough, fever and shortness of breath, people who have had contact with an individual with a confirmed case of the coronavirus and patients that have a severe acute respiratory syndrome, like pneumonia and other causes have been rules out.
Antibody Test for Past Infection
Antibody tests check an individual’s blood for antibodies, which can reveal if that person was previously infected with the virus that is responsible for COVID-19. Antibodies are special blood protein molecules that are produced in response to an antigen, helps to counteract an infection and provide immunity or in some cases, partial protection against a recurring infection or disease. An antibody test may not show antibodies depending on when an individual was infected and when testing was done. It’s still unclear if people who have recovered from COVID-19 can get infected again. Health workers happen to be one of the common groups of individuals that do this form of testing.
Testing for both swab testing/viral testing and antibody testing are available at urgent care centers locally. Testing is now available for a range of individuals to help control the spread of the coronavirus. Check with your local urgent care providers if you think that you may need COVID-19 testing.