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Rapid Antigen vs RT-PCR COVID-19 testing: What’s the difference?

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rapid antigen & RT-PCR test near me

The pandemic has entirely transformed the way we live our daily lives. With the constant threat of infection, the emphasis on proper hygiene has increased. However, we had to add two other constant companions to our lives. One is, of course, a mask, and the other is the COVID-19 testing at the first sign of symptoms. These things have become the necessary evils that we need to take in stride for a healthy life, as the lack thereof has already resulted in countless deaths worldwide. 

However, there is one thing that still seems confusing to people. The differences between different types of COVID-19 tests. For example, the difference between Rapid Antigen and the RT-PCR tests. This also gives rise to the question of which one you should go for when the need arises. Here, we will discuss the same to make it more comprehensible. 

Rapid Antigen Test

Rapid Antigen Test is done by collecting your mucus and saliva samples through a swab. It generally works best for heavily symptomatic patients and takes about 30 minutes to get the results. However, there are debates about its accuracy in the medical sector. As even after testing negative after a Rapid Antigen Test, it can be possible that you are COVID-19 positive.

The reason for that is, in the Rapid Antigen Test, the examination of the proteins present in the earlier stages of COVID-19 might not produce accurate results. So, even if you get a Rapid Antigen Test done, it is better to back it up with an RT-PCR test. Doctors usually suggest waiting for about two days at the minimum to be sure of your condition even if you test negative after a Rapid Antigen Test.


RT-PCR is considered the most effective test for determining the infection of COVID-19 as of now. It, too, is done through a swab test. However, depending on the place, patients have to wait for the results unless you go for a same-day RT-PCR COVID-19 test. According to reports, it is 100% effective in determining negative cases and about 67% effective in positive ones. This, as of now, is the highest accuracy rate among all the COVID-19 tests. 

RT-PCR uses diagnostic panels of Reverse Transcriptase-PCR to determine the presence of viral RNA. It is also entirely accurate in determining the presence of COVID-19 in earlier stages, even without symptoms. Therefore, people who test positive in RT-PCR tests are to follow all the specific guidelines immediately to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Who should opt for what test?

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Rapid Antigen Test

  • Heavily symptomatic.
  • Those in need of immediate results.
  • Bulk testing
  • Even after being tested negative, it is advisable to wait for at least two days to be confirmed of your condition.
  • It will be preferable to back it with an RT-PCR test.


  • Asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.
  • People who need to travel.
  • People who make close contact with a lot of people regularly.
  • Most effective in determining the presence of the virus in the body.

CDC guidelines you should abide by

There are several guidelines you must abide by to prevent the further spread of the virus.  For example, if you have any symptoms or are tested positive for COVID-19, isolate yourself, do not come in contact with people, wear a mask if even for moments you need to make contact with someone, and tell them to do the same. 

Other than that, make sure not to travel if you have symptoms, etc. For more updates regarding the same, follow the CDC website. If you want to keep a check on regular updates about the COVID-19 spread, you can check out the CDC Covid Data Tracker.


Make sure to get tested if you have influenza-like symptoms. Depending on the necessity, you can try either Rapid Antigen Test or RT-PCR test. At Affordable Rapid Testing, you can get both done in a safe and effective environment. We offer safe, contactless, and affordable tests and our Phoenix branches are located a few minutes away from the airport.

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