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COVID-19 Testing Timing and Frequency Basics

Despite the amount of time the COVID-19 pandemic has been active for, there remains some confusion among some people about testing for this virus. Many are unsure exactly when they should be tested based on their circumstances or symptoms, and some are also unclear on which type of test they should be pursuing. 

At Advanced Testing Services, we're here to help. We offer a wide range of COVID-19 testing services at various testing centers throughout Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah, including both PCR tests and antibody tests for those in need. When should you consider one or both of these tests, and when might a re-test be required? Here's a basic primer on test timing and frequency.

When Should You Get a COVID-19 PCR Test?

The PCR test for COVID-19, also called a molecular test, involves the use of genetic material to detect the presence of this virus. Here are the situations in which you should pursue a PCR test:

  • If you have any known symptoms of COVID-19, you should both isolate and immediately book a PCR test. This test should come within three days of your symptoms appearing.

  • If you've had two or more void results from other types of tests, including rapid COVID tests, you should obtain a PCR test for more accuracy.

  • If you've been identified as a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should also book a PCR test.

  • If you've been asked by a local governing body, health protection team or healthcare professional to receive a PCR test, you must comply with this request.

When Should You Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?

On the other hand, antibody tests are in place to detect previous exposure to COVID-19 rather than exposure and presence of the virus itself. Here are the situations in which you should seek an antibody test:

  • If you're looking to determine whether you've had a previous COVID infection for any reason, such as prior travel to an area with a high COVID-19 incidence, you should obtain an antibody test.

  • If you are asymptomatic but have come into close contact with a confirmed COVID patient, you should also get an antibody test.

  • If you are pregnant and have close contact with a person who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, you should also take an antibody test.

  • If you are uncertain about your COVID-19 or vaccination status for any reason, you should obtain an antibody or PCR test to determine whether your previous exposure may have led to immunity. 

Should You Have a Re-Test Done?

If you return a positive result that you want checked a second time using a PCR test, including if you believe the test was a false positive, it's vital to wait at least 24 hours before doing so. This is because this period of time will give your immune system enough time to kick in and remove any risk of false positive through external exposure types -- this way, you can be sure your second result will be accurate.

For more on COVID-19 testing timing and frequency, or to learn about any of our COVID-19 testing services, speak to the staff at Advanced Testing Services today.

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