At the moment, the PCR test (or polymerase chain reaction test to give it its scientific name) is the most common way that people are being tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19). In this article take a look at the science behind PCR tests, and how the actual test works.
Over the course of the past year, accessible and reliable testing for SARS CoV-2 has become vital to public health. When the COVID-19 pandemic first appeared, South Korea was one of the only countries to make diagnostic tests readily available to all citizens and they saw a lower death rate than other countries that hadn’t rolled out testing as promptly.
The majority of tests for COVID-19 can be divided into two categories:
- PCR tests
- Serologic tests
Both of these types of tests use different samples to search for the specific hallmarks of the SARS-CoV 2 virus, with a different degree of accuracy.
What is a PCR test?
A PCR test is a test that is used to detect the presence of an antigen ( a substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it) rather than the presence of the actual antibody.
What scientists are looking for, therefore, is the viral RNA (ribonucleic acid) which tends to be present in our bodies before symptoms of the disease present themselves or antibodies are even formed. A PCR test is the most sensitive form of virus testing that is available to the general public. This means that if you take a PCR test you should be able to find out whether you have the virus or not, even if you are very early on in the infection process.
What the PCR test results do is to give Public Health officials a good indication of who is infected and who isn’t. The people who receive a positive result can then be isolated to prevent the spread of the virus. They can also contact anyone they have been in physical contact with to let them know so that they can self-isolate as well. This is seen as one of the major benefits of the PCR test as the results can not only give us a clearer picture of what is happening on a global scale, they can also help to break the chain of transmission as well.
Here at Fit2FlyTest, we offer gold standard private COVID-19 tests that you can take in the comfort of your own home. You then return the sample by post directly to our accredited labs and your test result is then sent back to you – after it has been signed by a medical professional. We do all we can to give you peace of mind before you travel.