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COVID-19 Testing: Everything To Know About The Differences Between Rapid RT-PCR & Lab Processed RT-PCR Tests

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Lots of states and countries have re-opened their thresholds for tourists after the COVID vaccines are out. But still, many of them ask for a negative report before letting you enter. So, how will you present an accurate one? As COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, it is important to limit the spread of the virus despite the presence of a vaccine. There is a diverse range of testing methods available out there. Two of the most important ones are rapid RT-PCR tests and lab-processed RT-PCR tests. Now the question is what to choose for a quick yet accurate test result for traveling?

Both rapid RT-PCR COVID-19 tests and Lab test PCR tests have become so popular nowadays. It is a must to take the test if you are having COVID symptoms like fever, cold, fatigue, cough, breathing shortness, or headache. Also, if you are asymptomatic but got in touch with COVID-positive patients, you are at risk of getting it. First of all, you need to take a test before planning a trip outside your state.

Until 2020 none had even heard of those. But soon after COVID hit, different RT-PCR COVID 19 tests became everyday topics.  Rapid antigen tests and RT-PCR tests became household names. But still, some people don’t know much about the differences between the two. In today’s blog, let’s discuss just that.

The Rapid  RT-PCR Test

The rapid PCR test is true to its name, the results are available right in fifteen to thirty minutes after the test. The test detects viral proteins when they are at their highest concentration. 

During analysis, any SARS-CoV-2 antigens contained in the sample will react with the antibody-coated nanoparticles contained in the reactive test strip. If the sample contains SARS-CoV-2 antigens, they will bind to SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the (T) region of the test line.  It will form a colored line on the test strip indicating a positive result. The rapid antigen test is cheaper than the lab-tested one.

So, what if your rapid test gives away a negative result despite you having all the symptoms? Your doctors might suggest you wait for a few days for another test.

The Regular RT-PCR Tests

While the rapid antigen test detects the viral protein, the lab-tested Rt-PCR is another extremely powerful test. But it takes more time to show results than the rapid test. The real-time test turns a very small sample of DNA to large enough to make a detailed study. That is why the RT-PCR tests need a professional lab set up and thus it is more expensive and time-consuming.

Some More Differences Between The Both

  • Rapid tests need plasma or serum samples whereas real-time tests use swabs only
  • Rapid tests take something between fifteen minutes to two hours to get an accurate result. On other hand, lab-tested results take approximately two days to show up
  • Most rapid tests are one-step procedures whereas real-time tests involve three to four steps

The Final Thought

Both the tests have their fair share of pros and limitations. No matter which one of the two RT-PCR tests you take, always discuss with your concerned doctor first.

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