If you are tested for COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease), it is important that you know which type of test your provider offers, as it will directly impact its usefulness and how long it will take for the result to be available. There are two general types of COVID-19 tests: diagnostic tests, which determine if you have an active COVID-19 infection, and antibody tests, which determine if you have previously had COVID-19.


What Tests Does Patient First Offer?
Patient First offers the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase – Polymerase Chain Reaction) diagnostic test at designated testing centers, by appointment.  To make an appointment for testing, please click here.


The antibody test is available at all Patient First Centers on a Walk-in basis from 8 am to 10 pm, 365 days a year.  


Diagnostic Tests
Diagnostic COVID-19 tests help healthcare providers diagnose a person with an active COVID-19 infection. There are currently two types of COVID-19 diagnostic tests
•    Molecular (such as RT-PCR) – detect the virus’s genetic material in a sample from the patient’s nose or throat, and 
•    Antigen – detect proteins that are found inside the virus. 
 

  Molecular Tests Antigen Tests
Sample Collection Method: Nasal or throat swab. Nasal or throat swab.
Results Timing: Between two to several days for tests sent to outside reference labs.  Same day for hospital labs One hour or less.
Accuracy: This test is typically highly accurate. (Source:  FDA) Positive tests are usually accurate.  But if the test result is negative, the result may need to be confirmed with a molecular test

  
Patient First evaluated the antigen tests (sometimes called “rapid tests”) that are currently available and we were not satisfied by their performance.  At present, a patient who has an active COVID-19 infection may test negative using this test (a “false negative”) requiring a second, confirmation test using molecular diagnostic testing recommended in many cases.  For this reason, Patient First offers only reference lab molecular (PT-PCR) diagnostic tests for COVID-19 at this time. 


For more information about COVID-19 virus testing at Patient First, please click here.
 

Antibody Tests 
When you are infected by a virus, your immune system makes antibodies to fight the infection. Antibody tests determine if antibodies to a specific virus are present in your blood. Some antibodies, such as antibodies to measles, give life-long immunity. However, it is currently unknown whether or not antibodies to COVID-19 give immunity or, if so, for how long. An antibody test cannot be used to determine if someone currently has COVID-19. 
 

For more information about the Antibody Testing offered at Patient First, please click here.

 

If you believe you or your child may have COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider, local health department, or use an online tool, such as the CDC’s, to see if testing is recommended and/or if you should see a doctor. To learn more about the different types of tests for COVID-19, please refer to this guide from the FDA.
 


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