Often, when people fear an exposure to COVID-19, their immediate thoughts turn to get the fastest test with the fastest results. Regrettably, rapid doesn’t always equal reliability.

covid-19 test

With the ongoing spread of COVID throughout our community, there is a dramatically increased need for testing. Unfortunately, determining if you are infected is not as simple as finding a place that can provide a test.  One of the most important questions you should be asking is, “Which COVID-19 test do I need?”

There are currently three types of tests available, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Antigen-based tests. 

  • These are currently the most available tests and provide rapid results based on a nasal or oral swab.  However, while positive results can be reliable, negative results are not reliable (90% of tests will be negative). Thus, you have to follow up on negative results with a PCR based test, which is limited in availability.

Antibody-based tests.

  • These are the least useful tests for determining if a person is actively infected.  As antibodies are produced at the conclusion of an infection, this test is most useful for establishing if a person was previously infected.  These are readily available but require a blood sample.

PCR-based tests. 

  • These nasal swab tests are currently the “gold standard” of testing, meaning these tests now provide the most reliable results regardless of whether they are positive or negative.  Unfortunately, these tests are more complicated and challenging to perform, so they take more time and are in more limited supply. 
  • PCR based/send out:  Most of these tests performed are sent out to a reference lab, and unfortunately, with the exploding demand for these around the state and country, the results sometimes require several days to arrive.
  • PCR based/rapid: Unfortunately, as this test is the best combination of reliability and rapid results, they are in very high demand across the country, and allotment is limited.  

Ruling out COVID requires performing the right test at the right time, and occasionally, a person even needs two tests.  Because each person’s situation is unique, being certain if you are infected or not requires an evaluation by a knowledgeable provider and usually an appropriate test.

What is testing is available at CapRock?

At CapRock, we believe that it is our ethical obligation to assess patients with both the right test and a physician review so that they receive the most accurate and trustworthy results possible. Due to their unreliability, CapRock does not perform Antigen-based tests. However, we do administer both kinds of PCR-based tests, with send out being the most common. And, although CapRock currently is the only organization in Bryan/College Station that can perform rapid PCR testsdue to high demandCapRock providers order these tests based on priority for essential personnel, healthcare workers, first responders, etc. Additionally, CapRock does provide the Antibody-based test, just not often due to the fact it doesn’t provide information about the current infection.

Click here more information on COVID-19 testing at CapRock.