Currently, antibody testing and polymerase chain reaction are the dominant ways healthcare systems globally are using to test people for covid-19. All the methods have advantages and disadvantages, but researchers are actively looking for alternative ways to test covid-19 as the pandemic unfolds.

As nations grapple with the effects of the covid-19 crisis, the importance of accessible and reliable testing for the deadly virus continues to increase globally. Massive and rapid covid-19 testing is necessary to initiate prompt response to prevent the spread of the virus. For instance, in South Korea, where the healthcare providers made the covid-19 tests readily available and prompt when the coronavirus outbreak hit, the death rate reduced drastically.

There has been confusion about covid-19 testing. This guide explains more about the different types of tests.

Antigen tests

The majority of covid-19 rapid testing are antigen tests. This test involves a nasal or throat swab, and it detects a protein that is part of the coronavirus. Antigen tests are very beneficial in detection if someone has or is near peak infection or covid 19. The test is also faster and cheaper but can also be less inaccurate. That is because there is a little lag time between the moment someone gets the coronavirus and when the antigens show up, which means if someone is not near peak infection, the text might ne negative, but they are still contagious.

To understand that better, you need to know how the coronavirus attacks the body system. When the coronavirus enters the body system, it replicates itself by depositing its genetic material in the human body cells. Therefore when someone is tested when the virus is still replicating itself in the cells, it has not produced enough proteins to be detected by an antigen test. As such, the center for disease control and prevention recommends that anyone who tests negative for covid-19 but still has the symptoms undertake a PCR test to ascertain the results.

PCR tests

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) currently serves as the pillar of covid-19 diagnostic testing. It detects the coronavirus’s genetic material and is sensitive enough only to need a tiny amount of it. This is possible if someone is actively infected. A PCR test directly detects an antigen’s presence rather than the presence of the body’s antibodies. When it detects the viral RNA (the genetic information of the virus), which is present in the body before antibodies form or the virus’s symptoms are detected, the test can indicate whether or not someone is infected early on. The test shows who is infected so that they can be isolated as well as people they have been in contact with, which breaks the transmission chain.

Antibody tests

A covid-19 antibody test uses blood samples to determine if someone has antibodies produced by the body system to fight off the covid-19 infection. This test type is significant to test if someone had a past covid 19 infection; hence they very valuable after getting vaccinated for covid-19. Antibody testing for covid-19 helps identify people with an adaptive immune response to covid-19  by indicating prior infection.


Antigen tests help confirm active infections of covid-19 without the PCR’s arduous lab testing, while antibody tests are vital to determine the immunity developing in someone against the virus.

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