Various Covid-19 Tests Available: Which Offers the Most Accurate Results?


The Covid-19 pandemic has been around for over a year, and the steps you must take to control the outbreak are now clear. First, everyone must adhere to conscientious prevention measures such as wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing. Contact tracing of people who test positive to help stop the spread has also proven effective for breaking the Covid-19 chain.

Over the past year, you may have researched Covid-19 testing near me to have yourself, or a family member tested to verify if the coronavirus was anywhere close to you. As of this moment, some vaccinations are available, but until the vaccines are accessible to all, the best bet is to rely on using various tests available to detect the coronavirus infection as best possible results.

Although you can find 100’s of tests available on the market approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA for Covid-19 pandemic testing, the tests haven’t received formal approval from the FDA because a public health emergency is ongoing. Therefore, you must decide which test you want to use by inquiring with other people or researching for information about the accuracy of the results provided by different testing methods.

What Are the Tests Available to Diagnose Covid-19?

If you want to understand whether you are infected by the Covid-19 virus besides the preventive measures discussed earlier, you have a couple of tests you can consider. You can either visit a hospital to have a molecular test, also referred to as PCR. You can undergo a molecular test in medical offices, hospitals, your car, and even at home. Molecular testing kits authorized by the FDA requiring no prescriptions are available with drugstores.

Molecular tests look for genetic material only coming from the virus. Unfortunately, you may have to wait 24 to 48 hours before you get to see the results of molecular testing. Turnaround times are higher in many places where people affected by coronavirus are higher. Another issue with molecular tests with a higher number of false negatives it provided. False negatives indicated you are not affected by the virus, while in reality, you are. The false negatives were higher by 20 percent when testing was performed within five days after symptoms began because much higher earlier when the infection had taken control over everything else. In reality, the false positive rate acting in the opposite direction stated that you had the virus when you didn’t.

Many factors are blamed for the problems encountered by people undergoing the molecular test. Some mention because lab contamination or other issues with performing the tests that may have led to the false negative or positive effects claimed by the testing procedures.

Another test available for Covid-19 testing is the antigen test available at hospitals, ER for Covid 19 testing, and even the home. The technology involved in performing and an antigen test is similar to a pregnancy test where the results are available in minutes. Unfortunately, antigen tests have higher false negatives and are not favored by the FDA as a unique test for active infection.

Antigen testing is quick, affordable, and does not require complex technology to perform compared to molecular testing. However, many experts recommend repeated antigen testing as a reasonable strategy to overcome the deficiencies.

Testing for past Infections

You can have a Covid-19 antibody test to determine whether you were previously affected by the coronavirus. Antibody tests require blood samples taken by doctors, testing laboratories, hospitals. Antibody tests cannot determine whether you are currently infected but can accurately identify past infections, and results are available within a few days. Unfortunately, the false positive and negative rates are higher even in antibody tests depending on when the testing was performed.

How Accurate Are Any of the Testing Methods?

None of the testing methods are accurate, and you can still have doubts in your mind about the preciseness of the results of these tests delivered. You may visit various professionals and have every test performed by different doctors. However, with no precise measures of accuracy for these tests, even medical professionals cannot predict which test is the most accurate because many factors are involved during the testing.

False negatives provide false reassurances leading to delayed treatment and relaxed restrictions despite people being infected. False positives are likely to cause unwanted anxiety requiring people either to self-quarantine or seek coronavirus emergency care. All tests are considered inaccurate because rigorous testing and vetting have not occurred, and the accuracy results of the tests are not published. All tests available in the market are new, and so is the Covid-19 virus. A definitive gold standard test for Covid-19 isn’t available until this moment. Therefore the best option is to rely on your healthcare provider to decide which test is best for your unique situation.

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