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Types of SLC COVID-19 Test: Common Diagnostic Options

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

As the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic pushes on, testing continues to be one of the most important elements in this effort. We now have multiple robust forms of testing for this novel virus, allowing us to track its spread and take the proper individual and societal precautions to help prevent further spread and risk levels.


At Advanced Testing Services, we’re proud to offer multiple forms of COVID-19 test on-demand for people across Utah, with locations throughout greater Salt Lake City and Ogden. The primary forms we offer are PCR and antibody tests – the former is an example of a diagnostic test for COVID-19, while the latter is an example of serology testing that determines previous infection or the presence of antibodies created by the body against COVID-19. Both these tests are valuable, but also differ in important ways. This two-part blog series will discuss both types of COVID-19 test if you think you might need one and are unsure which to order – part one will begin with the two most common forms of diagnostic test, while part two will go over antibody tests, how to obtain both test formats in your area, and how testing helps stop the spread of this dangerous disease.



COVID-19 PCR Test


As of today, the FDA has approved two types of tests for diagnosing a current COVID-19 infection – the PCR test and the antigen test. Also known as a molecular test, the PCR test is one that detects genetic material of the virus using a laboratory technique known as polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.


This is the more detailed of the two diagnostic tests, and it requires a nasal or throat swab to collect. In other cases, you may be asked to spit into a tube to create a saliva sample.


PCR tests can produce results in a few different formats. They can be analyzed on-site in a rapid format by a medical professional, though it should be noted that accuracy in these cases is not as high. When sent to an outside lab for processing, however – which can take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours in most cases, depending on the lab’s workload – PCR tests are extremely accurate.


COVID-19 Antigen Test


The antigen test, on the other hand, is one that detects specific proteins created by the COVID-19 virus. It also uses a nasal swab, and is more commonly used in a rapid results format – which, as you may have guessed, means it’s less accurate overall than the PCR test. There are higher chances of false-negative results with the antigen test, or cases where someone is infected with the virus but still shows up negative – in some negative cases, a doctor may recommend a PCR test to confirm an antigen negative.


For more on the forms of diagnostic COVID-19 testing, or to learn about any of our testing programs or locations throughout greater SLC, speak to the staff at Advanced Testing Services today.


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