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CommunityLabWhat is a PCR COVID Test?

August 11, 2021
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Today, testing for COVID-19 is commonplace. And, with new variants of the disease quickly spreading, COVID-19 tests are even more important. COVID-19 PCR tests are the most accurate and reliable test available for diagnosing the virus. A PCR test, also known as polymerase chain reaction test, detects virus genetic material if present at the time of testing. A PCR test for COVID-19 can diagnose people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing this highly contagious disease. Healthcare professionals view PCR testing as the “gold standard” for COVID-19 detection.

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, dependable screening for the disease is critical. PCR tests provide diagnostic testing for the presence of viral RNA, which are even detectable in the body before antibodies form or common COVID-19 symptoms are present. This enables people to know if they have the virus early on in their illness.

How Does the PCR COVID Test Work?

A PCR test is diagnostic test that confirms if someone has an active COVID-19 infection. Diagnostic tests for an active infection can be performed two main ways: by using either a PCR or an antigen COVID-19 test. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved both PCR and antigen tests for diagnosing a current COVID-19 infection. PCR testing for COVID-19 is initiated by collecting fluid genetic material via nasal or throat swab or saliva sample. With a PCR test, the presence of COVID-19 or the virus’ fragments can be detected even if the person is no longer infected.

An alternative antigen test, often referred to as a rapid test, detects proteins in the virus. It can produce results in minutes. However, antigen test results are less accurate than PCR test results. Rapid tests miss some cases while PCR tests are very reliable when properly performed. Additionally, rapid tests have an increased risk of false-negative results Therefore, you may be infected with the virus but have a negative result.

The PCR test, also called a molecular test, is the most reliable and accurate diagnostic test available for COVID-19 and its variants. PCR tests are performed in a laboratory to ensure accurate disease diagnosis. The three key steps to a COVID-19 PCR test are:

  1. Sample collection. Samples are collected with a nasal or throat swab, or saliva spit into a tube as authorized by the FDA. Following collection, the sample is sealed in a tube and sent to a laboratory.
  2. At the laboratory, a technologist uses the sample to perform an extraction process, which isolates any virus genetic material that is present.
    PCR.
  3. Using a PCR machine and chemicals, a reaction is caused that creates copies of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. If the sample has SARS-CoV-2 present, a fluorescent light is produced. The PCR machine detects this light and software interprets it as a positive test result.

For the nasal swab test, CommunityLab uses the COVID-19 RT-PCR from Roche on the lightcycler 480 machine and process.

What Do PCR COVID Test Results Mean?

Having a PCR COVID-19 test is the most reliable way to confirm whether you have an active coronavirus or have been exposed. If you have been in group settings such as traveling or attended a large event, the CDC recommends following a rapid antigen test with a PCR test for confirmation whether you test positive. Or, simply take the PCR test.

A positive test result means the test detected the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and it is likely that you have an active case of COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and can recover safely at home. If your symptoms worsen, contact a healthcare provider.

A negative test result means you probably did not have COVID-19 at the time you were tested. However, you may be infected with SARS-CoV-2 but not have enough virus in your body to be detected. This can happen if you recently became infected but are asymptomatic. One negative test, however, does not mean you are safe. You can be exposed to the virus after your test, get infected, then spread it to others.

Finally, no test is perfect. A false-negative test result may still occur if you are infected, but it is too early to detect. A false positive means that the test says you have COVID-19, but you are not infected—or you have recovered and are no longer contagious. The accuracy of any diagnostic test depends on many factors, including whether the sample was collected properly, when during the course of the illness testing was done, and whether the sample was maintained in appropriate conditions. Therefore, regardless of the result, continue practicing preventive measures, such as social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks.

What are the Benefits of a PCR COVID-19 Test?

While rapid tests may be fast, they are not always be appropriate.6 And, at-home tests are more subject to error due to handling and processing. That is why CommunityLab makes coronavirus PCR testing easy and accurate. Samples are collected at home, then sent to our laboratory for reliable results within 24 hours.

CommunityLab’s PCR COVID-19 tests provide quick, convenient and reliable results to improve your peace of mind. Whether you are traveling, attending an event, or think you or a loved one may have been exposed or be ill, get the simple and quick answers that you need. Some travel and events require a negative PCR COVID-19 test result. The CDC recommends that anyone who is fully vaccinated and comes into contact with someone who has COVID-19, or is suspected of having it, should get tested three to five days after exposure.

Worldwide, COVID-19 testing has faced barriers, such as reliance on swabs which strains the supply chain. And, swabs are uncomfortable which discourages some people from getting tested. Furthermore, swabs must be collected by a specialist, putting them at risk of catching the virus and adds a logistical barrier.

SalivaDirect™ answers these problems. This self-collected saliva sample is as accurate and sensitive at detecting COVID-19 as a swab administered by a healthcare worker. So, in addition to nasal and throat swabs, CommunityLab has partnered with SalivaDirect to test saliva samples. Researchers note that saliva tests are less invasive and more comfortable, which increases COVID testing. Furthermore, saliva tests are more reliable than rapid antigen tests as discussed in this article.

Why Use a CommunityLab PCR Test for COVID-19?

Don’t waste time waiting for results. Our at-home sample collection kit includes a pre-paid, overnight shipping label and an easy-to-use HIPAA-compliant online portal where your results are available within 24 hours from when our laboratory receives the sample. Stop worrying about your COVID-19 status and order a CommunityLab PCR test kit.

CommunityLab. Reliable PCR COVID-19 Test Results in 24 Hours with Home Saliva Collection.