The Pros and Cons of the Common Types COVID-19 Tests

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Written By ArmandoPeterson

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The 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), has put the world in a tailspin. Healthcare industry responded in kind by quickly developing and deploying day 2 test to detect infection. These tests are used to help researchers and clinicians identify the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 virus (SARS-CoV-2), which is responsible for COVID-19.

Types of COVID-19 tests

There are many new ways to diagnose COVID-19. Many of these methods offer unique benefits and alternative administration methods.

Point-of-care, rapid diagnostic tests: These tests can be categorised as antigen or molecular. They are based on a sample of mucus taken from the nose or throat and then analyzed in a clinic. These tests often provide results within minutes.

Home collection tests: Only a doctor can order home testing. These tests allow patients to collect a sample at home and then send it to a laboratory for analysis.

Saliva tests: These tests use saliva samples taken from patients. Saliva tests are safer and more comfortable for some patients, particularly frontline healthcare workers.

Diagnostic Tests: Molecular vs Antigen Tests

There are two types of COVID-19 test: diagnostic tests and antibodies. Diagnostic tests include molecular tests such as reverse transcription polymerase chains reaction (RTPCR) or antigen tests.

It can be difficult to get a COVID-19 test, especially when you consider the rapid changes in testing guidance. Although each test has its limitations, molecular testing is one of the most efficient strategies.


The most commonly used test to detect the virus’s genetic materials in the body is the RT-PCR. This test allows patients to determine if they have COVID-19 active infection. Patients can then adjust their lives accordingly (i.e., quarantine).


The procedure is minimally invasive and can be done using nasal swabs, throat swipes, or tests of saliva or any other bodily fluids.

Social distancing is possible – While some molecular tests such as RT-PCR are performed at a hospital, clinic or other facility, swabs can be taken at home or from the patient’s vehicle.

There are fewer false positives in certain cases – Deep nasal swabs have fewer false positives than other tests such as saliva or throat swabs.

Antigen Tests

Antigen tests are done using a throat or nasal swab to detect specific protein fragments on the virus’ surface. However, these tests have a high false-negative rate. Many clinicians order molecular testing for patients who show classic symptoms and signs of COVID-19.


Rapid results: This test is similar to a pregnancy test, and results are available in minutes.